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The Great Animal Orche...
Bernie Krause
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The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origins of Music in the World's Wild Places

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  316 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
Musician and naturalist Bernie Krause is one of the world's leading experts in natural sound, and he's spent his life discovering and recording nature's rich chorus. Searching far beyond our modern world's honking horns and buzzing machinery, he has sought out the truly wild places that remain, where natural soundscapes exist virtually unchanged from when the earliest huma ...more
Published March 19th 2012 by Little, Brown & Company (first published January 1st 2012)
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Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are some fantastic ideas in this that I hadn’t really thought about. One is considering the health of an ecosystem by measuring sound of its biophony (the intricate niches and layers of sound/song emitted by life in an ecosystem) at different intervals before and after a disruption. Another was considering how life forms shape the sounds they make to fit niches within the whole of the biophony, and how the niches and sounds evolve when a system is disrupted. As someone who has been obsessi ...more
Dec 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Quite interesting, although a bit repetitious, when discussing soundscapes (geophony, biophony, anthrophony) & the bioacoustic recordings & logs that the author has made over the past 40 years. This is Krause's area of expertise & he elucidates it well. The book is less compelling when the author extrapolates from his experience & data to make assessments and broad judgements about wildness & nature in relation to homo sapiens. For example, he talks about a wild pre-modern Am ...more
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, nature
bernie krause's the great animal orchestra offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of bioacoustics, soundscapes, and the evolution of music. krause, a naturalist and recording artist (he was formerly a member of the weavers and is noted for his pioneering and influential work with synthesizers and in film), developed his niche hypothesis to describe the unique "sound signatures" made up of varying non-human animal voices that define a particular time and place (which may shift in response to ...more
David R.
Apr 13, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This one started with an intriguing premise, but goes downhill pretty quickly. There are a disturbing number of unsupported claims, and what documentation that exists is suspect to say the least. I'd skip pass this one by.
May 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Neat idea.

The main idea is that animals in any given given ecosystem have evolved to speak at different frequencies: "All god's creatures got a place in the choir... Some sing low, some sing higher..."

The author gives evidence that sonograms can/should be used to monitor habitats that have been logged. The "soundscape" shows differences that won't otherwise be seen. Habitats that have been disturbed show more chaotic vocalizations -- with more frequency overlap for the critters. Presumably this
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this one -- Krause's perceptiveness and poetic words are both beautiful. I have clearly not given enough thought to the sound environment around me, and the sonograms illustrating the impacts of human noise on ecosystem soundscapes are genuinely frightening. Thanks to Krause, I'm so much more aware of the sounds around me, and realizing how it really is impossible to get away from human sounds, at any time or place.

I admit I skimmed a lot of the sections on music origins (far t
Cassandra Kay Silva
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
This is a weird one! I picked this up thinking it to be of more of a scientific nature but found it instead to be more poetry and the lamenting of a heart for the sounds lost to us from the death of species. It was in some ways very moving. I loved his very lyrical wordy style. I found it captivating, like a piece of music. There isn't much to this in way of science, howver it is a wonderful view into the mind of someone who does hear likely as much as he sees with his eyes if not more. Totally ...more
Lauren Nicole
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whether you're a fan of sound or ecology
Jun 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not exactly life-changing, but the soundscapes were nice to listen to

I set up my laptop and place a Shure SM-57 microphone on the edge of one of the mesh seats of the aluminum chairs on the back deck of my house in Philadelphia. The neighborhood I live in with my family is densely populated, but suburban in its layout. Most streets are residential. There’s a strip of businesses struggling to stay open on the main thoroughfare – a hearing aid store, a shoe repair shop, a few dollar stores, an antique kitchen appliance seller
Juliet Wilson
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nature, environment
This wide ranging book takes as its starting point the soundscapes of wilderness areas (of which there are a diminishing number as the human population increases, encroaching onto previously pristine habitats.)

From there, Bernie Krause, former musician and sound recordist examines natural sounds and how humans have intereacted with them, from devising our first music inspired by the natural sounds around us to our impact on nature, both through destroying habitats to the huge impact of human ge
Bernie Krause, Ph.D. (bioacoustics), is arguably the preeminent recordist and archivist of habitat sounds in nature (he estimates 4,000 hours from 1,500 locales worldwide documenting 15,000 species) and this book, with accompanying free audio, is another of his persuasive testimonies to the vitality of aural communications among all living beings.

This book is much more than its title suggests. It is about the relatively unsung importance of the intricate web of pan-biological communication. It i
Max Carmichael
A frustrating book for me, but one I will recommend to my scientist friends. To begin with, the title is misleading: the author is apparently neither qualified nor motivated to find the origins of music, but what he does reveal is that natural soundscapes have been overlooked by science and society as a diagnostic for habitat degradation and a source of inspiration and therapy for our abused senses. There's a vast domain of information around us that few have learned to perceive.

The topic is rev
Nike Sulway
What I enjoyed:
- Being exposed to the idea of the biophony (noise produced by the natural world) and the anthrophony (noise produced by human civilisation, especially technology).
- Learning that in a biosphere, animals vocalise in such a way that their sounds complement each other. That is, they occupy different registers and time signatures, and are aware of and respond to changes in the collaborative aural make-up of their habitat
- Though a bit wishy-washy in terms of argument (more gestural a
Dave Dick
Feb 08, 2017 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book, lent to me by a friend [many thanks Fiona] and it lay around for weeks as I read more supposedly entertaining stuff....until one evening I took a look inside..

For me this was an exceptional book...a combination of biological sciences and music, my two life choices/work areas/hobbies/obsessions...Like any enthusiast, I wish everyone could understand these twin passions. By reading this book you should begin to "get it".

The author Bernie Krause has had a remarkable life by any me
*Check out for other reviews and sundry thoughts!*

At a young age, Bernie Krause (Wild Soundscapes) became fascinated with the array of natural sounds filtering through the walls of his family's house. He grew up to become both a musician and a naturalist, making a career out of recording natural sounds since the late 1970s; he was one of the first naturalists to record entire natural soundscapes rather than individual species.

In The Great Animal Orchestra, Krause det
Nayla Mehdi
Jan 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I support any book that brings about awareness of the newly emerging field of soundscape ecology. Soundscape ecology is different than that of acoustic ecology, the latter being more human-centric and the former focusing on wild life. Through his experiences, Bernie Krause talks us through how sound is used toward learning about the health of ecosystems. Krause explains that through acoustic monitoring, we can gain better knowledge of ecosystem dynamics and acoustic diversity, helping us improve ...more
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was glad to find that this book isn't a poetic interpretation of the animal kingdom as an orchestra. The metaphor is much more thoughtful and scientific than that. Krause shows us that the biophony of the world, or collection of animal sound, is the result of a grand evolutionary web in which every creature has developed an acoustic niche - a pitch, tempo, and time interval that allows it to be heard over its habitat. The black-and-white images of the author's recordings exhibit this beautiful ...more
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Krause has dedicated much of his life to recording the soundscapes of remote, wild places such as northern tundras, tropical rainforests, and desert plains. In The Great Animal Orchestra, Krause conveys what he has learned about the natural world and human music through his career. His discussions of the soundscapes of the natural world are fascinating, and bring to light something most people never truly contemplate or experience. The sound world created by animals, insects, and even fish are r ...more
Sep 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, what an incredible exploration of the natural work through it's sounds. The first chapter is so compelling that I've read it out loud to friends on multiple occasions. For 40 years Bernie has been going into nature where places can be found without human noise (very hard to find now) and setting up a microphone and recording equipment to hear and capture the natural sounds. He listens to the sounds generated by birds, insects, mammals, wind and other natural phenomena and he calls this tota ...more
Man. I tried with this one. I'm leaving it at about halfway through, and it doesn't please me to say so. The information is totally five-stars. The research Krause has conducted around natural sounds and human-made music is downright fascinating - it's just sort of, um, dry. I haven't yet gotten to a "hook" that kept me reading forward. In fact, I'm leaving off pretty much right before he begins (I think) to describe the way human sounds/music relate to those in nature. I'm sure when I come back ...more
Rick Bavera
This is a review of a Goodreads First Reads book.

Even though I grew up during the 1960s, and even though the author, Bernie Krause writes of working in music during that time period, his is not a name with which I am familiar.

I was not sure I would enjoy the book, as it initially I thought like it might have something of a textbook feel to it. And in some ways, maybe it does. Krause speaks of the origins of our music in the natural world. He speaks of soundscapes (the audio equivalent of lands
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book begs not only to be read, but listened to.

Wet dream material for sound anoraks no doubt but for me, not so much

blurb - Bernie Krause is the world's leading expert in natural sound. He has spent the last 40 years recording ecological soundscapes and has archived the sounds of over 15,000 species - half of the wild soundscapes he has on tape don't exist anymore because of human actions.

In The Great Animal Orchestra he invites us to listen through his ears to all three as he showcases singing trees, contrasting coasts, and the roar of the
Elisabeth Rose
Nov 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book twice and drew heavily from it on a lecture on the musicality of language at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts. It comes as an audiobook that plays the audio that it references. I believe that's the way it's meant to be experienced, and I must get myself that version (or put it in my letter to Santa). The book struck me as well investigated and profoundly valid argument about a sphere of Earth we rarely consider, yet one that affects the well being of hu ...more
Mikael Lind
I wanted to give this book four stars. The message in it is a very important one: don't mess with the environment or it is going to have consequences. Also, he makes some interesting ties between animal sounds and the origin of human music. Unfortunately, I felt that many of Krause's anecdotes were not so exciting; some where relevant, for sure, but sometimes he could have focused on the science behind his book instead. Yes, the science. He cites different authors, quotes them and makes some int ...more
Elizabeth Adams
While I found some of Krause's observations interesting, his conclusions didn't seem particularly original or surprising to me, as a person who's spent a lot of time outdoors listening to the sounds of nature. I guess I had hoped the book would speak more about how aboriginal peoples developed particular instruments from the sounds that surrounded them, or how human song reflects bird and animal song, but this wasn't what he was writing about. I felt there was too much ego and too much emphasis ...more
Annette Jordan
Although this book had some interesting and disturbing ideas about our disappearing natural land and soundscapes , some of which really shocked me, I found it rather a dull read and somewhat repetitive. There seemed to be an excessive amount of jargon that interrupted the smooth flow of the writing. The book was well structured with an introduction explaining the basic concepts, several chapters devoted to different aspects of the natural soundscape such as geological, metereological and zoologi ...more
Phoenix Carvelli
Review copy won on on 2-29-12. Received 3-7-12.

This is a very interesting book and very informative. The ability to go to so many locations around the world to record nature sounds is incredible. What an awesome job! least until the part about being able to hear very clearly that he was being tracked!

Just as we are unable to see the majority of the stars in the night sky due to man made illumination, we are losing the ability to hear nature sounds due to man's advances. T
Kallen Kentner
Read the complete review of the Great Animal Orchestra on

Although subtitled “Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places,” the book stretches far beyond this niche theory and looks compellingly on what natural soundscapes can tell us about ecosystem health, human interference and other topics.

Krause’s book spotlights the need for further research and brings attention to an often-overlooked aspect of the natural world.

Read more biology-themed science book reviews.
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Dr. Bernie Krause is both a musician and a naturalist. During the 1950s and 60s, he devoted himself to music and replaced Pete Seeger as the guitarist for The Weavers. For over 40 years, Krause has traveled the world recording and archiving the soundsof creatures and environments large and small. He has recorded over 15,000 species. He lives in California.
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