The School of Sound and the Barbican present

The sound of the living world

Richard Blackford, Bernie Krause and Chris Watson
Three leading talents explore the converging spheres of sound and music


Sunday, 6 July 2014
2:00 – 5:30 PM
The Barbican, Cinema 1


 Blackford Richard Blackford
One of the pre-eminent concert and media composers of the UK writing extensivelyfor orchestra, choir, opera, theatre, film and television.
 Krause2 Bernie Krause
Bioacoustician, musician, environmental sound recordist and sound ecologist,studying the composition and interplay of sounds in natural soundscapes.
Chris Watson Chris Watson
One of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena whosework extends from film, tv and radio to sonic installations and filmic narratives.

The sonic realm of the living world consists of three essential acoustic sources: non-biological natural, non-human organisms and human-generated sound. Together in any combination, these sources make up what is known as the soundscape. Human acoustic cultural expression historically draws from the first two of these and has evolved from its wild origins into both music and language. This programme investigates the converging spheres of sound and music, from outdoors into the concert hall and the gallery.

In 2012, Richard Blackford and Bernie Krause began collaboration on a symphonic piece titled The Great Animal Orchestra: Symphony for Orchestra and Wild Soundscapes. By weaving natural soundscapes recorded by Krause and colleagues into the fabric and textures of orchestral composition by Blackford, the team will have come full circle to embrace the ideas that inspired earliest formulations of organised sound – music.

Chris Watson is best known for his field recordings for film, television and radio and received a BAFTA award for his contribution to David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet series. But his work is heard just as often in galleries, museums and concert halls as installations and composed soundscapes. Last year, as part of Benjamin Britten’s centenary celebrations in Aldeburgh, Chris composed In Britten’s Footsteps, a soundscape depicting the sounds Britten heard on his daily walks around his Suffolk home, played in concert with the composer’s solo cello works. This year, he has created Inside the Circle of Fire, an immersive sound map of his hometown, Sheffield. In all his work, Chris urges his audience to listen – and not just hear.

In a conversation illustrated with both graphic and audio examples, Blackford, Krause and Watson will discuss the backgrounds to their recent works and explore the nature of sound – how it is organised and how we perceive it, in the wild and in music.

Curated by the School of Sound
Booking details at

The Great Animal Orchestra will be performed on 12 July at the Cheltenham Music Festival and broadcast live on BBC Radio 3. It will be performed again at the Aberystwyth Festival on August 2nd.



For a wide selection of bioacoustic and field recordings, go to    gruenrekorder_logo