When the world quiets enough around you, you're able to hear that little percussion instrument built inside you - your heart, which typically beats somewhere around 76 BPM, although ranging from 60-100 BPM. This is just one core element of our origins & ties to music, rhythm and melody built within our natural world. How much deeper does it go?
In previous blogs, we’ve discussed the music of animals within our world. Science Magazine touches on some of these wonders with “ In some whale songs, the overall song structure is similar to human compositions: a statement of theme, a section in which it is elaborated, and then a return to a slightly modified version of the original theme (that is, the ABA form). The tone and timbre of many whale notes are similar to human musical sounds. With an infinitude of possible sounds to choose from, whales could easily prefer to make sounds that we would deem unpleasant (roars, stutters, grunts). Most surprisingly, humpback songs contain repeating refrains that form rhymes. This suggests that whales use rhyme in the same way that we do: as a mnemonic device to help them remember complex material”.
How about the rest of nature? Do plants have their own sounds, perhaps even patterns of sounds, making their own music? How about the trees and the ocean? They do indeed exist, however not in the typical way that we experience music as humans. Instead of notes or scales, sound is produced by plants and nature through impulses of electrical frequencies.
In Italy, you can catch a singing plant concert where sensors are hooked up to plants and these sensors translate their frequency responses into a synthesizer. Quite amazing, as it’s much like using a language translator for the human voice.
How Science Works states “One of Gagliano's experiments involves testing how pea plants in dry soil "listen for" and respond to the vibration of moving water. Another study found the roots of young corn plants make "clicking sounds" of around 220 Hz, and respond to clicking sounds emitted at the same frequency.”
For those ambitious ambient creators out there, if you’re feeling uninspired or are just looking for some new sounds to sample and add to your arsenal - we highly suggest spending some days exploring nature with a portable microphone, battery pack and some headphones. You’d be amazed how many incredible samples you can create and tweak on your own just using the forest or waves around you. If you’re really feeling up to it, creating your own sample library pack for others to purchase could be a great way to expand your acoustic architecture.
When discussing whether or not nature produces music itself, it may also be a necessary consideration to discuss the effects of music on nature. Gardening Know How educates us with “Believe it or not, numerous studies have indicated that playing music for plants really does promote faster, healthier growth. She determined that plants “listening” to rock music deteriorated quickly and died within a couple of weeks, while plants thrived when exposed to classical music”
In a very tech-heavy world, we are constantly inundated with the next best of the best, that new keyboard or that new plug-in. In this space, It’s easy to overlook the sounds and beauty of our natural world. Listen closely and you’ll hear that even the smallest and seemingly insignificant life around us is speaking and singing in their own special way.