Wild Arrangements: sonic and performative strategies for interspecies encounters

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In the European classical tradition, singers are categorized according to their vocal range. From high to low: soprano, mezzo-soprano, and contralto for women, and countertenor, tenor, baritone, and bass for men. Within range there is reach and there is comfort. The upper and lower frequency limits of range are expansions of an individual singer’s comfort zone, called tessitura, which is the pitch interval where the singer can vocalize the longest and produce the widest dynamic variation (between loud and quiet), with the least effort or strain to their vocal apparatus. At the limits of range negotiation occurs, both within the individual (endurance and purpose) and in the collective (concord and counterpoint). If the limits of range offer possibilities of hybridization, excess and exchange, then the tessitura points to a stable identity, the middle-point of equilibrium where song meets spoken word and the voice is at its most pliable.
In the more-than-human realms of interspecies cohabitation the issue of sonic range is equally pressing. Those who utter and sing – from mammals and reptiles, to insects and amphibians – do so within a specific “acoustic niche” (Krause, 1993), a frequency range, not unlike a radio station’s bandwidth, which a certain species can occupy without conflicting with others. Each niche is an acoustic zone where a given species sound out its lifecycle, from mating calls to territorial cries, to the multilayered choruses at dawn and dusk. In a healthy ecosystem these niches are stable, while in one under threat, either by human or other disturbing agents (climate change, resource scarcity, invading species), these niches are subject to fierce competition and adaptation. In order to survive, species are known to, literally, teach themselves a new song (Giuseppe and Saino, 2007).
As a sound artist often working through site-specific performative strategies, I have been exploring the potential of human and more-than-human encounters through the tuning of their vocal ranges toward finding a common ground – a niche – in which a kind of sonorous exchange might happen. Many of these recent explorations have been centered around a specific ecosystem in Copenhagen, the Amager commons – 220 hectares of nature and wildlife surrounded by the cityscape, and currently under close scrutiny due to ongoing urban planning and development. I have used a combination of approaches, from field-recording analysis and sonification, to soundwalks and extended vocal performances, to radio interventions – all somehow gathered around the possibilities of attunement, entanglement and co-habitation.
This is presentation is a hybrid piece. On one hand, a short mapping inquiry into how sonic performative approaches have explored and facilitated interspecies encounters, together with the post-human drive behind this, particularly in an ecological humanities context. On the other, a reflection on my own practice-based site-specific experiments with vocal range, its limits and tessitura, and how to approach interspecies encounters by activating a “parliament” of voices.
Publikationsdato5 sep. 2021
StatusUdgivet - 5 sep. 2021
BegivenhedDRHA 2021: Digital Matters: Designing/Performing Agency for the Anthropocene - Humboldt University Berlin, Berlin, Tyskland
Varighed: 5 sep. 20217 sep. 2021


KonferenceDRHA 2021: Digital Matters
LokationHumboldt University Berlin


  • Sound Art
  • Interspecies Encounters
  • Acoustic Ecology
  • Posthumanities

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