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Re: Doug rocks at NSS

Subject: Re: Doug rocks at NSS
From: Walter Knapp <>
Date: Thu, 26 Jun 2003 18:11:52 -0400
Clifford Caruthers wrote:
> Ok, I'll bite on this one.  I really enjoyed the debate, but there was
> a bit of friction.  A dichotomy emerged between the more scientific and
> well-informed birders, and those of us with a natural curiosity and
> love for the sounds of nature but little background in biology.  My
> take on this as someone new to this community, is that there has to be
> room for different points of view here.  Martyn asks if you would
> record the chairman of the board without knowing his name, but I've
> recorded many a street musician without knowing his name or why he or
> she plays, without knowing the techniques and theory behind the music,
> but the experience of listening is still valid and in fact very pure.
> I'm a musician and composer of soundscapes, so while I do search out
> the name of a bird when my love of its particular call heightens my
> curiousity, I more often capture sounds for the feeling they elicit,
> for their musicality on the whole.  While this is not science I hope
> that it is art, and that it furthers the cause of preserving the
> natural soundscape.  This may be hard to accept for brilliant folks
> like Doug and Martyn who have such encyclopedic knowledge and so
> obviously love what they do, but I hope they will leave a little wiggle
> room for 'undisciplined' recordists such as myself.... ;-)

There is room for all comers. This is a group about nature recording in
all it's forms. I think the line does need to be drawn at including
humans and their activities in the sounds that we get into discussing,
but the rest of nature is fair game.

Nature recording grew directly out of scientific recording. The earliest
nature recordings to be sold were pretty much research recordings
reprocessed for listening. This is still done today. But nature
recording has progressed in many directions as well.

Others with no experience or tradition of science also enjoy the sounds
of nature. Many of those come from the craft of music recording, and
reworking soundbits into compositions is fairly natural to them. People
of this discipline tend to view the sound disconnected from the animal
that made it. Or even use sounds that are natural, but not made by a
animal. It is not surprising that many such will have no idea what
species made the sound.

Part of the negativity may stem from what hollywood does with animal
calls. Often using the calls for the wrong animal, in the wrong habitat
and the wrong part of the world. This, I don't believe helps the cause
much as far as preserving natural sounds. To believe hollywood we only
need to preserve the pacific treefrog, because it's the only sound frogs
make! Real frogs don't go ribbit. At least very few do.

And before any of the bird recordists get to uppity, just how many
frogcalls can you identify to species, or insects, or mammals? I've been
out with bird recordists, where I would hear the frogs, they would hear
the birds, and it was real work for us to hear each other's favorite
animal. Let alone identify them.



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