Listening to nature

This is a short essay that I wrote as part of a project for my music teacher from whom I learn Classical Indian music.

Music and nature are deeply connected in many aspects.As a child growing up, I have been exposed to different styles and genres of music as well as unique places in nature and the wilderness. Having been exposed to both worlds in my own little way, I see parallels between the two.

rainstick

Rainstick source:teaching.com.au

The earliest forms of music were firstly created by readily available objects in nature itself; such as rocks and sticks to create percussion instruments. The sounds that were heard by those who created these instruments were probably those in nature, from bird and other animal calls to raindrops, waterfalls and the rustling of leaves. In fact there were ancient instruments that attempted to imitate such sounds, for example, the rainstick, a long hollow tube partially filled with small pebbles/beans and that has small pins or thorns arranged helically on its inside surface. When the stick is turned 180 degrees, the pebbles fall to the other end of the tube, making a sound reminiscent of raindrops. It was invented and played in belief that it could bring about rainstorms.

SONY DSC

The call of the sunbird is as familiar to me now as any other sound in my home. Especially after seeing them nest in my balcony. I recognize it immediately and run out to the garden to see them leaf bathe in the evening.

If we take classical music, instruments like the violin, cello or guitar or even our own voices, create lovely sounds individually. A solo violinist can play compositions with extreme precision and perfection. But there is something different and awe-inspiring when all these individual components and players come together in an orchestra ensemble, guided by the conductor. The sounds created by an orchestra have the strong power to move audiences and make them experience the emotions felt by the composer of the piece. This concept is not very far from the harmony in nature. A little bee or bird may seem insignificant, but are actually playing an important role in creating the “orchestra” which is actually an ecosystem.

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The buzzing of a bee can be annoying to many.. but to me, it is actually a beautiful reflection of how busy and important its life is!

Music teaches us to listen to the every little note, the pitch and frequency created by our own voices or the instruments we have created. It is those listening skills we need when we go out into the forest or the field, to discover and explore the beauty of the natural world.

Music is not only created in the man-made world, but beyond it. If we did not listen, we may not have been able to see a woodpecker pecking against the trunk of the tree or the otter frolicking in the river nearby. Especially now we need to listen to nature more. We will not only unravel a whole new world and discover new species but be able to hear its call for help that we need to protect and preserve it for the future generations.

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7 thoughts on “Listening to nature

  1. What a nice post! I love your comments about the symphony of nature. I can’t imagine not having the blessing of hearing nature’s sounds every day. This afternoon we heard loud cicadas buzzing in the trees.

    1. Hi Pam, I’m so glad you liked my post. Thanks for the kind words. Wow! I love the sound of cicadas. They are so characteristic of a walk in the forest. That’s so true.. nature’s sounds are so relaxing and grounding 🙂 -Lavanya

      1. One of my favorites is the sound of frogs after a heavy rain here in Florida. There is a frog chorus of at least a dozen different kinds. It is amazing!

  2. What a great post! One of my favorite activities is to go into a natural space by myself, even just a little stand of trees, and just listen. It’s amazing how many little sounds pop out when I do so.

    I also like your analogy of how ecosystems are like orchestras. In an orchestra, the removal of any one group of instruments will reduce the overall quality of the performance; the removal of key sections will ruin it altogether. The same is true for natural systems.

    1. Hi Josh! Thank you so much. Its so lovely that you do that. It is so nice to pause from our busy lives and listen.. and its also nice when those sounds which lead you to spotting something new! Thanks also for that lovely observation.. yes.. that is so important, especially now when species are becoming extinct or endangered at such rapid rates due to our actions :/ -Lavanya

  3. Yes I do agree that music and nature are related in many ways. Sometimes when it’s raining, I just stand at the window and listen to the “symphony” of the rain and other sounds from nature

    1. Hi! Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving comments. Yes, it is so nice to listen to the sounds of nature. It’s so relaxing especially when you’re feeling stressed or low 🙂

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