Animal Sounds is a collection of recordings of animals that I have made over the past 30 years. The recordings were made in the US, Netherlands and Mexico. Animals in the wild and zoos are featured. Not even my cats were safe.
I’ve always been attracted to these sounds because of their musicality. The rhythms, textures and phrasings are musical elements naturally expressed by these creatures. Melodies can be discerned from the calls of birds, monkeys and elephant seals. Call and response patterns could sometimes be detected within a species and across species.
The tremendous variety of sounds is also impressive. From a lion’s roar to the tiny squeal of a skunk, quite a few of the sounds occupy domains unknown to human lips. They may also exhibit variations and development. Distinctive and memorable, the sounds are sometimes humorous as well.
The recording process in making this CD is something of a history of modern audio recording. The first of the collection, from 1980, (chimpanzees and large cats) were made on an analog reel-to-reel recorder. Good luck at finding a reel of analog tape these days. Over the years, I’ve used analog cassette and digital cassette (DAT) recorders. More recently I am recording directly to hard disc or with a portable digital recorder using memory cards. Computerized editing offers a high degree of control of these audio signals.
Although a few of the tracks (2, 8, 21, 23, 27 and 31) were “straight takes,” i.e. the recording has not been edited except for length, most tracks have the sounds “telescoped.” For example, I recorded the horses for over an hour to get a couple of minutes of actual sound.
In creating these sonic environments, I’ve used classical compositional tools to enhance their musicality and I think that is where Animal Sounds may differ from sound effects or nature sounds discs. The lengths of the tracks are cut to natural phrasing and edits are made in the natural rhythm of the animals’ sounds. Opening and closing material is also selected to enhance the musicality of the sounds. I think of the tracks as little compositions and the CD as series of vignettes.
I hope that in some way Animal Sounds leads to awareness of the beauty of these natural creatures. They need our help in maintaining habitat so that future generations may also enjoy their presence.