The extraordinary recordings of Bernie Krause

Bernie Krause. Zoetrope 1979 – Taken during the recording sessions for Apocalypse Now, at Francis Coppola’s Zoetrope Studios in San Francisco

We are extremely proud to be able to make available some of Bernie Krause’s extraordinary recordings as high-quality downloads through Society of Sound.

An inspiration in both the music industry and the world of environmental sound, Bernie Krause has achieved a phenomenal amount for one man – not least recording the sound for Apocalypse Now for Francis Ford Coppola and coming out unscathed.

A leading figure in West Coast folk during 50′s and 60′s and an early pioneer of the Moog synthesizer, he gradually left the industry to travel the world archiving the sounds of creatures and environments large and small. His archive of environmental sound is one of the most important collections in private hands

Soundscape Particles of Dawn: Scenes from The Great Animal Orchestra consists of short excerpts from three dawn choruses – two sites of which are threatened with bioacoustic transformation so radical that unless their current ecological trajectories are soon mitigated, they will become altogether silent or so significantly altered that their collective signatures – the biophonies – will no longer be recognisable.

“Recording in the wild takes time and practice to do it well. But, really, anyone who can hold a small recorder in their hand can record wildlife and become a citizen-scientest. And the good news is that for £150 ($250USD), one can now buy any one of a number of very decent digital recorders that come equipped with microphones, too. This introductory gear can weigh as little as 6 ounces (170 grams). And there are now batteries that will allow continuous recordings of 24 hours or more.

This is a far cry from the analogue days when we had to carry recorders that (with 12D cell batteries and plastic 7 inch reels of audio tape that lasted only about 20 minutes) weighed 22Kg. Keep in mind that one set of batteries with that type of recorder (a Nagra IVs) lasted only about 5 hours. In 1987, when I recorded with analogue gear in Rwanda (the late Dian Fossey’s research camp, Karisoke), I had to carry 170 lbs (77Kg) of recording gear for a month in the field. If I had to do the same trip now, I could likely do the same thing with under a dozen pounds of equipment (about 5Kg).

But remember, the main problem is not necessarily the gear. It’s finding a place where there is wonderful density and diversity of wildlife sounds and little or no human noise. And where human noise is minimal or non-existent, the recordist (you or me) has to learn to sit or stand absolutely quietly for long periods of time, or stay far enough from the mics so that your movement or breathing, or scratching, or shuffling of feet cannot be detected.” – Bernie Krause

The recordings are available as beautiful 24-bit quality downloads.

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