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Sustainable Styles

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Anna R Lee

Where To

By Alexandra von Nostrand

You are living in the midst of the Earth's sixth major mass extinction, an event that began 50,000 years ago. Pause for a moment to recall some of these lost animals, from majestic whales, to brilliantly colored frogs, to American passenger pigeons. Now add a soundtrack to the slideshow playing in your head. That's a bit more difficult, isn't it? Have you ever wondered where the sounds go once these animals no longer tread the earth, fly the skies, and swim the seas?

Extinction is a critical part of the evolutionary process, but the loss of biodiversity on our planet has accelerated catastrophically with human activity. Although technology has been the downfall for many species, it also is a tool that we can use to remember them.

The Electronic Music Foundation is a good place to visit on the internet to catch a glimpse of what has been lost. Its mission is to explore the convergence of music, sound, technology, and science – and to share the creative and cultural potential of this convergence with a growing public. EMF organizes concerts, festivals, symposia, and conferences in New York City. It also supports composers and sound artists by commissioning innovative work.

One EMF program is Ear to the Earth, a worldwide network for environmental sound art. Mating serenades and cries of warning speak louder than the written word, encouraging a more sustainable lifestyle that benefits all life on our planet.

An past event, For the Forest, took take place September 17, 2011, in the historic Ten Mile River Scout Camp. Here John Luther Adams' Inuksuit and Yoko Ono's Secret Piece, both composed for the event, will immerse audiences and performers alike in a convergence of environmental and composed sounds. The compositions weave vocalizations of wind, water, birds, insects, and animals, to forge new and dynamic relationships with their surroundings. Upcoming events can be found on their websites.

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