A Call for More Animal Sounds in Music

I think animal sounds are sorely underutilized in music.

I have thought that ever since first hearing the lovely introductory sounds in Lemon Jelly's A Tune for Jack (2001):

I wondered: why don't more bands do this? The sounds of animals are good for the soul and, as animals become less and less a part of our daily lives due to urbanization and population declines, it is deeply pleasing to get a supplement of their sounds...

In their song Furr (2008), Blitzen Trapper emulates the call of a loon with a small toy water pipe:

Luckily, there is an even better source than a water pipe. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library of Sound is an incredible resource for any music lover. One can explore the squawks of chickens, chirps of manatees, or the tweets of tropical birds. Really, they have almost every animal sound!

The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is the world's largest natural sound and video archive of animal behavior. Its mission is to collect and preserve recordings of each species behavior and natural history and to make them available for research, education, conservation, zoos and aquaria, wildlife managers, publishers, the arts, and both public and commercial media. Since 1930, recordists of all backgrounds have contributed their recordings, which now number to several hundred thousand in total. A large percentage of the recordings can be searched and played online. The Library also provides services for consultation, custom compilations, and professionally edited versions of its assets.

Please feel free to share other examples of great music with great animal sounds...


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The Beatles used animal sounds as background in a number of their songs. But nothing exotic, more like farm animals and crickets and stuff.

See if anyone is still keeping Bernie Krause & the Human Remainsâ Gorillas in the Mix in print. Itâs an entire album of music where all the sounds are sampled from a variety of critters.

I second the Bernie Krause Gorillas In The Mix recommendation. Tried to find it on YouTube for you but WMG has gotten all pissy about using the sound track there. It's out of print but you can get the whole CD for three bucks on Amazon - most enjoyment you'll ever get for that price.

Nice to see your new blog! Have you heard Neko Case's new album? She recorded it in an old barn, and left all the ambient sounds of birds, etc. It works brilliantly.

First thing that comes to mind is Graeme Revell - The Insect Musicians (1986) - created entirely from samples of insect sounds. (Graeme Revell was in industrial/noise band SPK & went on to score dozens of big Hollywood movies, plus TV series such CSI)

By Michael Norris (not verified) on 10 May 2009 #permalink

Paul Winter has been doing that for 30+ years.

More cowbell!

I had an old vinyl LP of a band "men without weapons" cant remember the album name? They used the sounds of many animals Does anyone knows where this music exists digitally ? Its amazing.

I've developed a fascinating lecture called "A Musical Bestiary," which includes several dozen classical works incorporating imitations of animal sounds--plus several which use recordings of real animal sounds . . . anyone interested?


By M. J. Albacete (not verified) on 11 Jun 2010 #permalink

In response to Davidl, and to anyone who might be interested, the "band" were actually called "Gentlemen Without Weapons" and their album was called "Transmissions." It was a project of, amongst others, singer-songwriter Kenny Young.

Since I had it on vinyl (back at my parents' house in England), I was pleased to find it available as a used CD on Amazon.com

Here are some recordings on Youtube too: