Chris Mercer

Chris Mercer is an interdisciplinary musician and field recordist, currently teaching Composition and Music Technology at Northwestern University, who uses many different approaches to composition including electroacoustic and instrumental techniques. Having completed his Ph.D in compositions at the University of California, San Diego, he worked around the globe including Europe, before embarking on his most recent project at Duke University Lemur Research Centre, North Carolina. This project is focussed on detailing the vocalisation sounds of a specific group of animals and using the electroacoustic method to create a context to demonstrate how these sounds differ between species, which creates a very interesting piece of music and an interesting use of the approach.

For a more detailed biography, including other projects, writings and other areas of Dr. Mercer’s, visit his official website.

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Photo: Mercer, C. (2015). Mercer Headshot. Retrieved from

It is Dr. Mercer’s electroacoustic 8-channel sound work entitled The Audible Phylogeny of Lemurs (2008-12) which is of interest here. The term phylogeny relates to the history of evolution of a species, and his work uses the vocal sounds of the primates to create a new piece based on the different vocal qualities of the different species, with a view of producing a work that tells the story of the evolutionary development of the species.

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This video shows a stereo mix of Dr. Mercer’s 8-channel piece. The 8 channels would project the sound around the listening space creating a much more immersive soundscape.

The video shows part of the different types of calls used, and the species which makes them.
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Photo: Dickinson, E. (2013). Baby Ringtailed Lemur! Very Cute and Very Serious. Retrieved from

Video: camercer72. (2013). Chris Mercer - The Audible Phylogeny of Lemurs. [YouTube]. Retrieved from