Sound of Silence


Vintage 1967 mono Nagra III

Music In Your Head

GPM # 64

What makes music sound funky? What makes it sound thrilling, sad, offbeat or downright strange? What makes you hum along, before you even know what notes come next?

The ability to ‘understand’ and interpret music is hardwired in your brain. I spoke about this with Roger Dumas. Dumas is a neuromusicologist and brain-audio innovator, with a long, storied career. Having introduced Janet Jackson, Prince and other artists to the Moog synthesizer, Dumas took up research study at the University of Minnesota’s Brain Sciences Center.

These days, Dumas is working on behavioral and neuroimaging, and the validation of a musical chill-identifying algorithm.

Listen to our conversation with Roger Dumas. Click on the play button above, or go here.

Roger Dumas and his Moog synthesizers (David Kattenburg)

Then, there are the sounds of silence: formerly sound-rich ecosystems, bursting with bird songs, insect buzz and the reverberations of less noticeable creatures, that don’t resonate like they used to.

Earth’s oceans, packed with sound wave artists of all sizes, have reportedly fallen silent too.

Or, maybe it’s human machine noise — along with all the chatter in our head — that’s drowning out their voices.

People need to quiet down, focus and listen harder. They need to come to their auditory senses.

Bernie Krause and Hildegard Westerkamp think so.

Bernie Krause is a soundscape ecologist based in northern California. Armed with various recording devices, Krause — the originator of the acoustic niche and biophony concepts — has captured the sounds and songs of creatures large and small, above and below ground, and inside trees.

Hildegard Westerkamp is a Vancouver-based composer, radio artist and sound ecologist, and an alumnus of the World Soundscape Project. Westerkamp’s soundscape installations and small group soundwalks, down Vancouver streets, are renowned.

Listen to our conversation with Hildegard Westerkamp and Bernie Krause in today’s  podcast. Click on the play button above, or go here.