Thursday, June 02, 2022

Top ten books about listening to nature

David George Haskell is a writer and biologist. His latest book, Sounds Wild and Broken, is an Editor’s Choice at the New York Times and explores the story of sound on Earth. Starting with the origins of animal song and traversing the whole arc of Earth history, he illuminates and celebrates the emergence, diversification, and loss of the sounds of our world, including human music and language.

At the Guardian Haskell tagged ten books that "helped me to hear better and to understand the stories behind the sounds I was hearing" in nature. One title on the list:
Sudden Music by David Rothenberg

A wonderfully creative exploration of the improvisational nature of sound and life. My copy is full of underlined passages. Rothenberg is a philosopher and musician whose writing and music play at the boundaries between the human and non-human. Our music, he claims, “offers us up to the more-than-human world” and listening in turn opens us to the many presences of other species. Music that begins with listening to the world – to rain, cicadas, birds and whales – can then tap deep wells of creativity. As non-musicians, too, such listening to the musicality of “nature” is generative and expands our ability to respond to life in the moment.
Read about another entry on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue