“The voice of the natural world”

Not long ago I visited a friend in the city and we spent a lovely evening sitting outside on her balcony soaking up the last warmth of summer… I listened to all the sounds around us. A baby crying, a siren on the main road, voices, cars, the distant sound of a festival in the city centre. It was a change for me. And an interesting reminder too; I’ve been living out in the country for 8 years now, and there was something I missed while sitting there… a sound that is so normal in our garden that I hardly notice it any more… until it is removed: the crickets.

“…our ears tell us that the whisper of every leaf and creature speaks to the natural sources of our lives, which indeed may hold the secrets of love for all things, especially our own humanity…”   

Bernie Krause


Bernie Krause made a name for himself in the music industry back in the 60s, when the synthesizer was still young and electronic sound was new and exciting. But later he turned his talent to recording the sounds of nature – including many sounds that are slowly vanishing – from all over the world. Some of these recordings are in museums, others have been used in films. They are living archives of precious habitats. Wikipedia says “… it is now estimated that over half of these habitats have been destroyed or so compromised by human intervention that Krause’s recordings are all that is left of their original bioacoustic density and diversity.”

His website is fascinating and definitely worth a look at: Wild Sanctuary

I found his talk on TED Talks absolutely amazing. I was particularly stunned when Mr Krause showed us how a habitat appears visually completely undisturbed after forestry work… but our eyes can deceive us…

“careful listening gives us incredibly valuable tools by which to evaluate the health of a habitat across the entire spectrum of life”

His recordings and his work seek to exhibit the impact of resource extraction, human noise and habitat destruction.

Listen to the talk. It will make you listen more carefully next time you go outdoors, I’m sure.

32 thoughts on ““The voice of the natural world”

    • The crickets are still going strong here too, although not as loud as in July and August. I nearly missed this talk as I hadn’t looked at the TED site over the summer. Glad you like it Susie.

  1. Oh my Cathy. This really tugs at my heartstrings. As you well know we sometimes don’t miss something until it’s gone and it’s too late. Thanks for sharing this. I am off to hear the TED talk now.

  2. A very interesting talk and impressive examples of the voices of nature! I especially like the first quote of Mr. Krause.
    I´m so thankful for now living close to nature. I love the voices of birds, crickets, dormice… as well as a the whispering of leaves in the wind… I´ve got more and more receptive for pictures and sounds of nature. It´s a feeling of having arrived at home … finally.

    • I think we only become aware of certain things as we get older, even if we’ve always loved nature. I see the connections between flora and fauna more and more these days. Thank you for your lovely comment Elisabeth. 😀

  3. YES! the sound of the garden is the thing I don’t share on the blog but is something I enjoy so mauch especially during the summer. In winter the garden is almost silent as there are fewer insects and bees. Great post, thank you

    • The winter is pretty quiet here too, but I listen out for the birds then… mostly crows and the odd thrush. A shame we can’t record things like this man does.

    • We have exactly the same problem with magpies here too! And crows. The woodpeckers make a lot of noise as well. Spring and summer are wonderful for listening to the smaller birds. 😀

    • I couldn’t imagine that either. The garden is getting quieter by the day here, but a few sunny days are forecast so the bees should come to the sedums and Perovskia.

  4. Crickets always remind me of balmy evenings camping in France when I was a child. You’re absolutely right, it’s so good sometimes just to listen. I lay in the hammock in our garden with my daughter yesterday and it was so lovely just listening to the birds enjoying our Indian summer. Well, briefly – until my daughter got wriggly and noisy!

  5. Thanks for sharing this very interesting little clip, Cathy. I definitely know which soundscape I prefer and scary too when I think of negative human influence. I always listen carefully to what’s going on around me and often, when I ask others whether they’ve noticed this and that, they look at me in wonder because they have lost the ability to listen.

    • That’s true – and not just with listening either. I used to do a pure listening exercise with classes where they had to just concentrate on what they heard for a few minutes. Some heard only the “main” noises, and only very few heard all the other background noises as well. I think we have to train our ears to take note!

  6. I hadn’t come across the work of Bernie Krause – or maybe I had but wasn’t aware it was his. He sounds like an interesting person. And thanks for the link to the TED talk… I’ll have a look at it.

  7. This is so beautiful, and your opening really resonates with me. Getting ‘away’ from city sounds is a basic need that pulls me to the wilds on a regular basis, just to HEAR nature… the softest sounds of breezes moving through grass and leaves, the ripples in the river, the calls of birds, insects and animals. We all need to listen. Thanks so much for sharing this amazing post, and introducing Bernie Krause! His quote you shared is wonderful, and I’m off to watch him on TED now. Thanks again! Hugs, Gina

    • I’m glad you enjoyed reading the post Gina, and hope you enjoyed the talk too. This man has chosen to use his talent for such a worthy cause. Thanks for your comment! 😀

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