Interview with Marc Anderson of Wild Ambience

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I came across Marc Anderson’s nature sound recordings in 2013 via Wild Ambience soundcloud page. I was impressed by their purity and the way they make you feel as if you are actually there in the forest. My piece Journey to Centre – Music for Centennial Park Labyrinth features two of his recordings – Tropical Dawn and Winter Woodland.  Find out more about Marc and his work below.

Do you have a favourite nature sound or bird call that you just love to listen to?

It’s hard to choose just one, but some of my favourites include the roar of a tiger, frogs and insects in Borneo’s rainforest at night, White-handed Gibbons singing and, closer to home, the song of a male Superb Lyrebird.

When did you start documenting/recording nature soundscapes? Was there a particular place, nature sound, experience or person who inspired you to start?

I have been photographing nature for many years, but only started recording audio in about 2010.  With my photography work I’d often seek out pristine, wild places, but in addition to the visual beauty, I often felt the sounds in these locations were just as compelling. So I started to research recording techniques and equipment to learn how to best capture these wild soundscapes and achieve a realistic and immersive listening experience.

Now I probably spend more time recording audio than taking photos of nature!

You’ve recorded nature sounds from all over the world (Malaysian, Borneo, Nepal, Australia and Papua New Guinea). What is your favourite spot to record in and why?

For me the sounds of a tropical rainforest are some of the most complex and beautiful on the planet. With such rich biodiversity, rainforests often pulse with a dazzling array of different sounds from insects, frogs, birds and mammals. Whether it’s in Australia, Papua New Guinea or South-east Asia I love recording the sounds of day or night in these wonderful forests. Hopefully I’ll be able to record more rainforest sounds from South America and central Africa in the future.

Can you tell us a bit about the nature soundmap project?

The Nature Soundmap project is a collaboration between over 70 nature sound recordists from around the globe and offers a unique, interactive way of exploring the natural sounds of our planet. Combining high-quality field recordings with the latest satellite imagery, the project brings together some of nature’s most beautiful, interesting and inspiring sounds.

By navigating using the Google Maps interface, you can immerse yourself in a pulsating insect chorus in Borneo’s tropical rainforest or climb the Himalayas and relax to the melodies of birdsong in an alpine meadow. I recommend putting some headphones on, making yourself comfortable ,and enjoy exploring and discovering some incredible nature sound recordings using Nature Soundmap.

What do you think of the way your birdcall recordings have been featured in Journey to the Centre – Music for Centennial Park Labyrinth? Do you think there is scope for more music-soundscape collaborations like this?

I love it. The nature sounds add depth and atmosphere and, of course, the music is superb and very moving. I think the result is much more than a simple ‘mix’ of nature sounds with music – it is a thoughtful, harmonious composition where the sounds of nature have been carefully placed alongside traditional instruments and the results are wonderful.

There is definitely potential for more of these type of collaborations. Sound installations with music-soundscapes can be very effective complements to visual displays and exhibitions.

As a Sydney resident yourself, do you have any tips for Sydney-siders (and other city dwellers) on getting more nature (and calm) into their busy lives?

Although Sydney is a large and busy city, compared with many other cities in the world it is relatively easy to ‘escape’ from. With the Royal National Park and Blue Mountains within about an hour’s drive from the CBD, it’s not too difficult to find yourself a peaceful, natural setting to relax in.

However to find yourself in a truly ‘quiet’ place – you might have to travel a bit further, away from the major flight paths. I have found sections of Wollemi NP (about a 2 hour drive from Sydney) to be wonderfully free of human noise and a great place to find solitude in truly wild country.