Music for Natural History


Music for Natural History is a site-specific performative installation by Tina Pearson and Paul Walde.

In response to the invitation to re-imagine the displays in the Museum’s Natural History Galleries, Walde and Pearson collaborated to create a living sound score for the Coastal Forest and Seashore dioramas.Through careful cataloging, research and music transcription, the sounds of the flora and fauna represented in the dioramas were orchestrated into two naturalistic sound performances: Elk Concerto and Shoreline Operetta.They invited musicians and singers from the community to participate.

According to their instrument(s) each musician/vocalist was provided with notation, audio samples and coaching in sonic mimicry. The notations called for nontraditional uses of instruments, verbal instruction and listening for audio cues from other players.

The first realization of the project was presented as a workshop production during Site and Sound, an event curated by Chris O’Connor at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC Saturday April 28, 2012. The project was further developed in 2015, resulting in two workshops in the autumn of 2015 and two performances in January 2016. For details about Music for Natural History 2015-2016, click here.

The following are audio excerpts from the April 2012 performance within the Coastal Forest and Seashore dioramas a the Royal BC Museum. What initially might have appeared to be a field recording was in fact a live acoustic interpretation of the sounds of the life forms represented in the dioramas by vocalists and music instrumentalists.

Performers: Grace Salez, Geraldine Bulosan, John G Boehme (voices); Andie Lemus, (voice, violin); Steeve Bjornson (guitar, percussion); Olie Dason (clarinet); George Tzanetakis (clarinet, saxophone); Alfons Fear (trumpet, euphonium); Sasha Opeiko (violin); Dong Kyoon (ocarinas); Julia Zhu (flute, recorder, slide whistle); Paul Walde (guitar, percussion, cymbal); Tina Pearson (flute head, slide whistle, ocarina, voice).