Earlier this year, in February's Episode 16 of The Quiet Mark Podcast, we discussed the inaugural Sound of the Year Awards with Chair-Judge, Matthew Herbert - BBC New Radiophonic Workshop & fellow Judge, Cheryl Tipp - Curator of Wildlife & Environmental Sounds - British Museum.
One of the categories, Best Field Sound Recordist, was being judged by legendary Soundscape Ecologist, Bernie Krause, and one of the works nominated in that category was the incredible Wolf Soundscapes, by Melissa Pons.
So, it is with immense pleasure that, in this Episode 26, exploring The Art of Field Recording, we are joined by Bernie and Melissa, to find out more about why they record sounds of nature, what it has taught them, and what we might learn from listening to their works.
Bernie Krause, often referred to as the Godfather of Field Recording, is a seven-time author with north of 50 years experience. He posited the ‘acoustic niche hypothesis’ that all organisms establish a frequency and bandwidth to ‘vocalise’ themselves in their habitat. That explains why those animalistic elements in the rainforest never seem to clash, but all have their own established space. He’s recorded 5,000 hours and a huge 15,0000 species. First working as a studio musician, Bernie even introduced the MOOG synthesizer to film soundtracks and popular artists like Peter Gabriel, Van Morrison, Brian Eno and David Byrne (to name but a few…)
Melissa Pons is a fellow field recordist whose work is, in her own words ‘slow’. She acclimatises to the cultural context of the situation and environment in which she finds herself. She came from a background of commercial sound design, but has chosen to focus on ‘more meaningful’ projects—allowing a portion of her profits to be ploughed back into the people and places she’s introduced to—via her recordings. These have included recording in tropical forests in Brazil, and also living with and recording packs of wolves.