An Introduction to Soundscape Composition and Acoustic Ecology

Soundscape composition is an approach to making music using the sounds of the environment and is a worldwide practice which encompasses all sorts of soundscapes such as cities, arctic wildernesses, and rich woodlands. This practice has links to acoustic ecology which is the study of the environment through sound.

Some soundscape composers have a strong background involving ecological research. Their music is focussed on the art of the environment and intendeds to highlight how we listen and interact with those sounds, as well as draw attention to the need to preserve these habitats and soundscapes.

For a full introduction to the topic, Kendall Wrightson (1999) has an excellent article which details the formation and development within the field of acoustic ecology: An Introduction to Acoustic Ecology.

Bioacoustics and landscape ecology are areas of scientific research into acoustic ecology and it should be understood that this scientific research, and the work of a soundscape composer, are generally very different fields. David Dunn’s work with the Pinyon Engraver Beetle can be seen as an example of both fields merging together.

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Today all sounds belong to a continuous field of possibilities lying within the comprehensive dominion of music. Behold the new orchestra: the sonic universe! And the musicians: anyone and anything that sounds!”
Schafer, 1994, p. 5
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Leonardson. (2013). Our Sonic Playground.
Retrieved from

Each environment has a collection of its own unique sounds, from the tranquil lake to a busy city. Acoustic ecologists record these sounds to learn about the environment.

Soundscape composition is a way that acoustic ecologists as musicians use these sounds to make a new piece of music.

Recordings of the environment are made using specialist equipment, often over very long periods of time to ensure that the best sound is captured.

Any environment can be used but often acoustic ecologists are interested in the natural environment, and the effects human activity have had, or could have on it.

This website will attempt to show how the sounds of the environment which are recorded as part of the acoustic ecologist’s research are often used to create new music called soundscapes.

This website will only focus on the work from composers who are acoustic ecologists and work with the sounds of the natural landscape and create music of an electroacoustic nature, rather than using human-made sounds, such as those of a city, and other approaches to composition. As such, it should be noted that there are many other composers who work within the field of acoustic ecology that create astounding work based and prefer to work in a different artistic form who are not covered on this website.

All the information gathered into this website can be located on the internet with resources and references shown as links to the website or location of the information, video, or image.

The use of images and videos have been referenced using the APA 6 format, as this website forms part of an academic assignment for an undergraduate degree.

Please contact the webmaster for any information or questions regarding this project: