Nature Music: Prerecorded Nature Sounds in Electroacoustic Composition

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Since Ottorino Respighi included the recording of a nightingale in his Pini di Roma (1924), composers have used prerecorded nature sounds, or field recordings, to help establish a specific sense of place. The purpose of this project is to examine how modern composers utilize field recordings to create natural-world settings, as well as how prerecorded nature sounds influence the melody, harmony, rhythm, and texture of their compositions. After a brief overview of nature sounds in twentieth-century composition, two contemporary composers and two works for electronics and wind ensemble are discussed in greater detail. In Beneath, Alex Shapiro creates an underwater atmosphere by composing with the recording of a humpback whale song; in Rusty Air in Carolina, Mason Bates uses recordings of insects and birds to bring listeners on a musical journey to a Southern summer night. These discussions illuminate how melody, harmony, rhythm, and texture are generated from recordings of the natural world. The concluding chapter draws connections and distinctions between each composer’s use of field recordings.

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  • 02/02/2018
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