Introducing the History of Acoustic Ecology

The term ‘acoustic ecology’, as well the understanding of what the practice entails, is quite new when compared to the origin of how the sound of the environment was used as music.

The primary function of acoustic ecology was not driven by an artistic vision, but by the desire to find out more about the world - driven by a scientific aim.

R. Murray Schafer, seen in video below, is the person associated with the creation of not only the approach, but also the name.

In the video Schafer discusses his views on how the approach came to be, its recent developments, and where he believes it is heading at present.

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R. Murray Schafer is considered to be the creator of the field of acoustic ecology.

Originally working in Vancouver, Canada, his initial research was focussed on how the sound of a city environment was affecting children and their learning.
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Photo: The (2012). Esprit Orchestra Soundstreams Honour R. Murray Schafer. Retrieved from

Video: Alberganti, M. (2010). La Semaine du Son 2010 - Murray Schafer. [YouTube]. Retrieved from

David Dunn, who can be found in the Composers section, has a very interesting and informative web-article from 2008 which discusses the development of the field of acoustic ecology and the experimental music tradition. In his article he covers the history and development of acoustic ecology as a concept, and as terminology, and moves on to discuss the many new and constantly developing interpretations, branches, and concepts which now exist within the diverse field of acoustic ecology.