The Songs We Sing Monmouth, a collaboration between the artist Elizabeth Demaray and the community of Monmouth University, considers the concept of a biotope, a small environment shared by humans and other lifeforms, and ponders the lack of human companion species in the postindustrial landscape. In advance of the project’s opening, the students at Monmouth will digitally record community volunteers attempting to make the calls of local songbirds. These human birdcalls will then be sampled and installed at an outdoor listening station on campus. Mixing with the preexisting natural and urban soundscapes, these recorded renditions of bird song are not intended to sound completely natural. The resulting audio experience for a viewer/listener in the vicinity of the installation may be one of recontextualization, being that the human generated bird calls may sound natural and also not quite natural at the same time. This blog post features an audio link to the installation at Monmouth University, the installation catalogue essay by Jim Brown, and the directions for community participation, in case you would like to host and install your own version of The Songs We Sing.
While humorous, The Songs We Sing also considers the nature of what scientists are calling the “massive species die-off.” Environmental research now indicates that we are in the middle of the Earth’s sixth and most rapid species die-off. The naturalist E.O. Wilson believes that by the end of this century—in our lifetime, we will witness the extinction of 50% of the species that currently exist on Earth, if we continue at our current rates of climate warming and ecosystem degradation. So, this century may see the closing of the Cenozoic era and the start of a new one characterized by biological impoverishment. Scientists believe that the next era might appropriately be called the Eremozoic era or the Age of Loneliness. In this context The Songs project proposes that us humans may soon have to create fictive environments to experience a sense of calm and beauty.
Final tracks featuring can be accessed on Soundcloud here: https://soundcloud.com/elizabeth-demaray/the-songs-we-sing-monmouth-3220-1148-am
Project Participant Directions: Please go https://www.xeno-canto.org/explore/regionand draw a box around the Northeastern Seaboard. You may have to zoom in to see the bird calls collected in our area. Click around and listen to multiple species until you find one that “speaks” to you.
Listen to the call a couple of times and turn it off. Then open GarageBand (free download online for Macs), or any other recording software. Make one recording of yourself making the bird call at least 4 times in a row.
Save your recording as an MP3 file. Title your mp3 file with your last name and the name of your bird. Ex: EDeamaray_Pied_Billed_Grebe
Then add the recording to the Songs We Sing Monmouth folder at this link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ObYQJRMFuof85LYXSzxqNdwn1fI7kLA2?usp=sharing
Your recording will be featured in The Songs We Sing: Monmouth. This site-specific installation will be on view at various locations on the campus of Monmouth University periodically during the month of March, 2020.