The Audiophiles: Finding music in the sounds of Antarctica
- The Audiophiles: Finding music in the sounds of ...
When we imagine Antarctica, we often think of an empty place: big expanses of ice, almost no other people on the entire continent. It might even seem like a quiet place. But it’s not. There’s the colony of Adélie penguins with their chicks, the elephant seals, and of course, the sounds of the ice itself. Local composer and instrument-maker Cheryl Leonard recorded these sounds on a trip she took in 2009 to Palmer Station – that's a biological laboratory off the Antarctic Antarctic Peninsula. When she returned, Leonard created songs from these recordings, combining them with music she played on a peculiar collection of instruments made from penguin bones and rocks she collected on her trip. In the process, Leonard has also documented the sounds of a place that is slowly disappearing. Antarctica has been losing ice since at least 2002 -- and losing more of it each year. Some species there are also endangered. All this means that as time goes on, the kinds of sounds Leonard recorded will become increasingly rare. She sat down with KALW’s Martina Castro to discuss the sounds of Antarctica.
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August 22, 2011
CHERYL LEONARD: I was surprised how noisy it was there! Because it was the summer and it was the peninsula so it’s on the coast and there’s a lot of wildlife, and all the wildlife is frantically trying to reproduce in the short summer. So there are lots of bird sounds, lots of sounds from different kinds of seals, lots of whales that visited us. And then you have all the sounds of the ice melting, so the ice from the glacier next to the station constantly falling off into the ocean making these huge thunderous sounds, the little pieces of ice floating on the ocean, clinking and clunking and popping as they melt – it was really quite loud (laughs).
MARTINA CASTRO: Is there a sound that was unexpected, or that inspired you, that you found particularly beautiful or interesting?
LEONARD: One day I got to go out on the glacier and get lowered into a crevasse, which is a big crack in the gla...
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