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  • Djerassi Soundscapes
  • Heather Spence

The gift of time enabled me to explore the fractal concept of sampling, thereby revealing multiscale links among music, bioacoustics and environmental health. The core of my work was sampling the Djerassi soundscape by digitally recording sounds, documenting the acoustic tapestry at multiple sites on the property, both day and night, constantly and sporadically. The content of the sounds included insects, birds, motors and rain, but my focus was the sound of the sounds and their patterns. The digital method of capturing sounds samples the patterns of pressures, and the recording method of capturing soundscapes samples the patterns of ecosystems. I linked acoustic sampling with visual sampling via photography and video, including time-lapse photography. At the Open House, I organized a sound walk that included collective listening, recording and analysis.

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Heather Spence, Viola da Gamba Music Connecting with Nature and Hikers, 2017. (Photo by Gordon Kirkwood)

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Heather Spence, Many Directions, photo, 2017. (© Heather Spence)

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Heather Spence, Recording Djerassi Soundscapes, photo, 2017. (© Heather Spence)

The recordings inspired me to create collaborative music including:

  • • A piece using the recordings of the Djerassi soundscape, together with music on the barn piano, that segued from daytime to nighttime

  • • An ambient soundtrack for an art installation tuned to anthropogenic nuisance noise, i.e. fans and generators

  • • A trio composition based on my research program sampling MesoAmerican Reef underwater soundscapes

  • • A soundtrack to accompany a video featuring arctic habitat sampling jam sessions of responsive music with natural sounds

Thank you to NAKFI for making my residency possible and to my fellow residents with whom I learned so much. [End Page 236]

Heather Spence
Email: <>
Web: <>


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