Southern Hemisphere Duet: Blue Mountains National Park, NSW (Wendy Robertson Fyfe)


You flicker from tree to tree, splaying your rump feathers, curling your toes around a maple branch, flushing green and flexible after rainfall. Even deep in the forest, shaggy curtains of elm bowing down to the ground, the dawn penetrates, a gilt river of crown shyness between the pines, the fir trees, and the cottonwoods. Violets blink like purple stars in the undergrowth. Spring has arrived and it is time to call for your mate. A year’s worth of liquid flight, moonlight that pierced your tiny eyes and accumulated, pooled yellow with desire in your syrinx, begins to rise, to find it’s spiraling syntax. Finally, exuberantly, you snap your beak open and vibrate into song. Nothing sounds. You sing so hard you lose your footing and catch your fall with open wings, alighting on a lower branch. Again, you strain, and then squint into the forest air, and see that it is molecular with moisture and pollen and thick with… something else. Something like a shadow that hovers and flows, running right in front of your tiny, feathered head. Water-like it seems to melt into the void, filling every empty nook. When you try to sing, the substance subsumes your voice, blocks its melody from travelling the forest, and reaching your lover. You struggle and shift pitch, shift rhythm. What if you made your song a sharpened point and like a mosquito stings through skin, you pierced the dull air. Nothing works. You will not mate. Your longing for love is mute. Your song flattens back into your breast.

This is my creative imagining of what a Swainson Thrush might feel like, as it tries to sing for mate, in the midst of anthropogenic (manmade) noise: logging, highway traffic, construction, or the roar of jet planes overhead. Sound, although you cannot hold it or weigh it, takes up space. Ecological space. The term Soundscape was first coined by Canadian naturalist and composer R. Murray Schafer and was expanded into the term Soundscape Ecology by musician and ecologist Bernie Krause to describe the acoustic relationship between beings in a shared ecosystem. Field recording next to a Kenyan waterhole at night, in the seventies, Krause realized that the combined effect of all the different animal noises was similar to the music of an orchestra. He translated the sound data into a visual graph called a spectrogram and was shocked to see that, in fact, it resembled a musical chord. The frogs were flutes. The hyenas were the oboes. Completing thousands of field recordings, often in the same place year after year, Krause developed the Acoustic Niche Hypothesis. An ecosystem is a space and every song inhabits a different part of that space. Every animal, in a shared ecosystem, evolves sounds in different pitches and rhythms so that they leave “room” for each other. They identify the clearest channel through their landscape: their acoustic niche.


Southern Night Song (Wendy Robertson Fyfe)

When you go outside at night and hear the heartbeat pulse of peeper song below the sonorous whooping of a barred owl, the streaking cackle of coyotes on the hunt somehow gliding in and out of the rush of the mountains stream, you are hearing the product of melodic, evolutionary cooperation. How can everyone sing at once without ever interrupting each other? Each being conscientiously braids through another’s sonic domain, finding the cleanest, most energy efficient way to produce their song. The end product is indeed like an orchestra. The name for this collection of vocalizations is called Biophony. Geophony refers to the elemental, non-biological layer that also informs the “orchestrated” sounds: the velveteen whisper of a brook, the rattle and whine of an old pine, flexing against the wind. But then a rumble. A guttural whine. There are cars in the distance, beyond the tree line.

Human noise is called anthrophony. And, as it exists now, it does not cooperate. Instead, it disregards the fine-tuned synchronized songscapes of Biophonic ecosystems. It takes up all the space. Noise pollution doesn’t just disturb animal populations. It can actually destroy them. Krause demonstrated how the roar of jet planes desynchronizes the song of spadefoot toads. Their synchronized song is a defense mechanism against predators, and Krause watched as, when they fell into disharmony, coyotes and great horned owls descended on the toads. The population was quickly decimated. Similarly causes life-threatening stress to frogs and blocks the song niches of birds trying to mate. While they shift their register and try to adapt to new soundscapes, the attempts usually fail. Bird populations that cannot mate, quickly fall extinct. It has been well-documented how sound pollution disturbs coral reefs and disorients whales.


Blue Mountains National Park, NSW (Wendy Robertson Fyfe)

Krause has studied thousands of soundscape ecologies, and according to a recent interview, he estimates that at least half no longer exist due to noise pollution and human development. His theory has allowed for researchers like Nick Friedman to do “quick” assessments of the biodiversity of ecosystems. Recordings that can be run through programs to assess the variety of different sounds, analyzing how many different species are present. While this technology is exciting, its results are often extremely disheartening. In his own long-duration study of Sugarloaf Ridge State park, recording on April 15th.of every year, Bernie Krause demonstrated the striking loss of birdsong, the susurrus of trees, and the murmur of streams. Drought and noise pollution took over the soundscape.

I want to offer that as biological beings, we developed inside soundscapes. We, too, once had an acoustic niche. Maybe it was the plush pad of our footfall. Personally, I believe it was song. And that song may have come before the dry click of conversation. I like to imagine we were once fluid and aware of our biophonic channels. We knew how to send melodic arrows through the forest, disturbing no one, always reaching and softly drumming the ear of our beloved. Bernie Krause advises silences. He tells us we need to listen again. And make less noise. I agree. But I also think that there is another fertile option.

What would it mean to reclaim a biophonic niche? What would it sound like to spend a year in a forest carefully listening, and then to, accurately, engaging your whole body, begin to whistle into collaborative, orchestrated biophony with the rest of the more-than-human world? Yes, we have taken up too much sonic space. We have actually driven birds and insects to extinction. But that does not mean we can’t exit anthrophony and enter biophony. Perhaps the answer is to speak less, to build less, to drive less, to do less, and to sing more.


Blue Mountains National Park, NSW (Wendy Robertson Fyfe)

Sources: https://www.anthropocenemagazine.org/2017/08/biophony/, Future Ecologies Podcast Episode The Nature of Sound, NPR Invisibilia episode The Last Sound, https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0649, Handbook for Acoustic Ecology by Barry Truax.


Southern Hemisphere, NSW Australia sounds and images through Wendy Robertson Fyfe


Thank you Sophie Strand for singing your voice as we approach next week's Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus. If you find yourself resonating with Sophie's song and duet between North Hemisphere and South Hemisphere, please share widely.


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Canyon Of The Ancients, Colorado, USA


Perceptual Portal



My antennae sweep and scan

for reception, for a portal

in perception, for a porous

passage to a green breathing

land where every presence

offers itself to be known,

where everything speaks,

even galaxies, even stone,


where interspecies

lovetalk leaps like

flashing fish and flying

dragons in blue-pooled

dream canyons, where poems

sprout from cracked bark

of sequoia and oak, and

madcap music mushrooms

from decay and darkness.


Sometimes human beings listen,

ears tilting in a creaturely way,

tuned to something not entirely

audible though there is no barrier

to reception, and through

this listening we might remember

how to live, hearing the old

voice that still bells forth

from the primal body

who birthed us all,


the old voice reverberating

along tendrils of mycelia

that entwine the human psyche

with the mother tree:

living psyche of Earth.


It’s not a far country or fictional

galaxy, but an unfiltered mode

of consciousness with no screen

to block or deaden the Others

and their always-streaming voices,

their ancient kinships, star-studded

extravaganzas, where even human

beings might harmonize their wildly


necessary sound. I have sojourned

plenty in that stone-talking terrain

but lost the way of return

busy as I was with all varieties

of civilized absurdity,

forgetting I even had

antennae, formed long

before we became human.


But here: a passageway

opens on the mossy edge

of imagination. Shadows

illustrate the way, flicker

and hum their own language.


Praise the revived antennae

and sing with the Others now:

cackling trills, creaking

dreams, moon swoons, rough

poems sprouting from

portals in perception.


Geneen Marie Haugen


Posted with kind permission.

Thank you ~


Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus. Singing a wave of song at dawn embracing the Earth; singing the Earth with Earth Community. Sing into this self organising ceremony. Resources and more at www.earthsongwave.org


Image: Wendy Robertson Fyfe

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Minnamurra Rainforest In Reciprocity Song


Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus began in 2018 as a way to celebrate, praise, give gratitude, live differently, and feed the Earth. She was created as a way for humans to sing our Earth songs as Earth singing together in a wave of and for Earth. Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus is an invitation to sing with the voices of Earth Community, with a “YES” and more, remembering being part of an animate Universal Chorus. The invitation is to sing at dawn around the world on 1 April yearly creating a wave of song embracing Earth. The invitation on one level, there are many others’ you can see on the website www.earthsongwave.org, is of the deep imagination moving between the worlds of possibility, myth and dream. What and who else might be woken, fed, by our song? Over these years Earthsongwave has travelled to 52 countries that we are aware of. What will her reach and embrace be this year? Please share and spread this song seed. As usual, there will be some beauty contributions to blogs coming your way.



~~~~~



We are beginning our approach to this fifth Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus later than usual as l currently find myself abducted by beloved death in or near Buddaroo National Park, New South Wales, Australia. I often find myself in Minnimurra (Plenty of Fish) Rainforest and in the mysts of Cambewarra (Mountain of Fire). I am a long way from my ‘native’ Scotland/Alba as many of my forebearers found themselves, like me, drawn across ocean’s sails, or engine wings, and not always by choice.


I am listening to origin choruses sensing into ancient songs voicing from Earth before The Great Forgetting and abductions. I am listening in pockets of wildness who remain despite an onslaught of destruction over a tiny second of Universal time by certain white human’s hands and machines for human extraction and consumption one way or another. The aliveness of tastes and smells, gazing into different colours and textures, listening to sounds in such pockets resonate in and awaken my very core cells. In one instance, as a friend and l walk very slowly, like a walking equivalent of the ‘slow food movement’, l’m listening, feeling, touching whilst a number of people speed past as if they're ticking a ‘done that’ box in a pocket book noting, 'visited Minnamurra Rainforest'.


Minnamurra Rainforest Song


Another time, l’m stopping to listen to the dense myst song dripping from and to lower scented eucalyptus leaves as, unknown to me, birdsong rings out. I feel their songs singing me even as an occasional car drives fast nearby in Cambewarra and wonder why this sopping wet myst filled mountain was named Mountain of Fire by the original people here. As l find my body herself quite literally singing, vibrating, and pounding with aliveness, l wonder if this body feeling is how our ancestors experienced life daily on Earth before we withdrew our senses to the head mind and lived in a kind of false ‘rational’ way. I’m curious if the Mountain of Fire the ancient ones related with was/is the fire that rises from Earth into a remembering body. Sometimes the myst rising on the mountain looks like smoke.


Here, l see none of the original human culture, the Wodi Wodi people who, as far as l can research currently, were in this area living in sacred reciprocity with the land here for eons speaking a variant of the Dharawal language. I wonder where they live now, whether any remain in a pocket anywhere at all. So much is gone, many Earth lives including humans and human cultures destroyed/extinct already, as much expressions of and relations with land and Pacific Ocean. I’m here in this land honouring, and with deep listening grief songs of what happened here and my birth culture’s part in it, of complexities, of convict ships here and to America whilst slave ships passed the other way. I’m listening for longer lingering memories in the deep imagination of the land and ocean and body flesh.


As l do so, l’m also wondering about the origin of each of us here and now, not only on a cultural level, but in a soulcentric way; soul as our unique eco-niche, the particular aspect of Earth we are born to live into the world that is pre/pro-formative healthy culture, though lived in through culture. What of the fire rising from Earth is entering this body now. What and who is wanting to be born through each of us now, whose/what song?


Whilst in Australia, l’m staying in a place originally called by Aboriginal (Ab-original) heritage ‘kiarama’ meaning "place where the sea makes a noise" and “the place where the mountains touch the sea”. It is now known as Kiama with the tourist Kiama ‘blowhole’ which, like Minimmurra Rainforest, is likely ‘ticked off’ visitor’s pocket book lists these days. The ancient name kiarama is invisible, even on Google, is not mentioned now anywhere that l have seen. I’m broken open by the experiences of the land herself and the ways of living of the white people here today with such invisibility, including myself, of such a past. I am broken open with both beauty and horror here. Such a big heartbreak crack to live down and sing into; feel all and be with rather than fix, escape, cut-off, fly, change, control, as in the current flatland dayworld dominator ways; rather ‘stay with’. The current extraction culture, whilst mining deep, is very thin but not in a magical kind of way though perhaps spell caught. It has no depth, or width creating shallow trauma individualised breathing. We need to learn once more to offer time to our original soul notes, to breath more deeply, root down, open to life fire rising.


One theme of this year’s Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus is an invitation to sing between worlds; the worlds between the living and the dead, the extinct, sacrificed, lost, the contorted to fit a particular Earth-destroying norm; to listen and offer grief songs for origins and longings that Earth’s way be born from this transformational time. To sing, one might also say, to those of us who are living a dead life in a flatland culture; offer a song of life. I note that we currently have humans living a dead life and increasing numbers of dead humans who are not sung or honoured. It is time again to sing songs who are in touch with sensitivities of Earth (and therefore our own birth breath); those with an ear and voice to the heart of the world, the holy ground on which humans walk in a bigger conversation with Earth and Earth Community. I believe these sensitive ones, maybe most of us, do not ‘fit’ a particular already skewed way becoming contorted as our miracle Earth is too. Perhaps an Earthsongwave can turn the song around in a healthy life enhancing way.


Budderoo National Park Symphony


Now, where l am in Budderoo National Park, l remember human and more-than-human origins and am sung by their breath through my body. Here another theme is singing between the worlds of wild places and the everyday monotone culture, breathe song back in. Such wild places are crucial for even beginning to remember the songs of the animate, conversational ‘more-than-human’ world and there-by remember our own wild songs in Earth’s dreaming; how to sing them.


One of the songs l remember here in Cambewarra is just that, the song of breath herself; of my being breathed by her breath weaving me into her Earth mantle. My breath is not something l ‘own’ like a property; breath is not my ‘own’ as if it’s ‘mine’ to be mined for another kind of exploitation or, indeed, ‘self-improvement’ project in order to live a ‘happy’ life. Rather, how can l learn once more that breath, and breath creating song, is always in the flow of Earth’s service. I’m reminded of a way of breathing through the deep imagination; breathing in the sky (which we also are, and all the eons of beings who created it being breathed in now), breathing out into rooted trees rising. I wonder how the ancient ones experienced breathing the breath of song. Remembering my ‘Earth origin’ distinct from cultural origin, even today; to listen and feel for who the original note of me is that l am Earthborn to sing; one who is likely way beyond human comprehension at this time and being called forth in these times. Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus is a way for us to remember our origin song and wave in together.


Where in your own being might there be a pocket of memory of your own original note, your eco-niche song? Perhaps lost or found in ships across oceans or taken into other’s hands both coloniser/colonised, slaver and enslaved, patriarchal and more, distorted yet perceived as natural or norm. The beauty and the terror of all, vulnerable and courageous. Furthermore, just to complexify further, what if these too are all Earth’s voices; what if we humans are, as l believe, Earth moving, listening, singing and more. What on Earth is she up to, and what/why now?


My invitation is to be with it all, let these kinds of songs have you/us. Let them take you through breath anew, maybe in ways remembered that have not been felt or heard for eons. Let Earth breathe you, sing you in a way that can only be Earth born into the ways of your unique origin needed today for Earth and human evolution. Let us die to who we believed ourselves to be in an unhealthy Earth-killing culture.


Meantime, l continue opening, feeling into, the mountain singing me as a beloved’s death cracks evermore deeply and l stay with the multi grief songs. I will lose everything l love, as you will too; this could happen in any given moment and not necessarily tomorrow or some future date (as l now realise l thought), but now. Knowing and feeling that closeness, what song is longing to sing you with the gift of breath that has you right now? What/who of you is dying to be who you are in this Earth.


Cambewarra, Eucalyptus, Kookaburra and Myst Notes


Now, l’m here by the mountain, in a "place where the sea makes a noise", “the place where the mountains touch the sea” feeling and listening for origin pocket songs needed to sing and be sung by them; songs as ancient Eucalyptus trees, their scent releasing in the dripping myst entering my skin, nostrils, eyes, to the core of my cells now buzzing. I’m here where spider’s webs are becoming visible hanging magically between sopping wet and wide branches. They remind me of the connecting webs of seen and unseen worlds for feasting in; let’s sing between these worlds too in this year’s Earthsongwave Dawn Chorus. Rich rotting dank wood and decaying leaf songs are composting under my feet. I too find myself being sung by this mountain and see; feel this pocket of breath life fire expressing herself through my body. The Kookaburra’s original laughing song echoes with dripping leaves, and so sings the body of ‘me’.

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