The 20th century American photographer ANSEL ADAMS was a tireless advocate for the cause of wilderness and the environment. His images became icons of the landscape of the American west, intensifying and purifying the experience of natural beauty. In his photographs, he created a sense of the magnificence of nature that filled the viewer with the emotional equivalent of wilderness — often more powerful than the actual thing.
Something similar happened at the edges of 20th century American music. Drawing together influences from the 19th century romantics, the French Impressionists, the serene mysticism of OLIVIER MESSIAEN, the ideas of JOHN CAGE, and the new technologies of sound recording, composers began to incorporate man made or actual sounds of nature into their compositions and recordings.
Film soundtracks typically mixed music and sound effects with dialog; during the 1960s commercial nature sound records become popular, and countless albums of music and nature sounds eventually became a cliche at the hands of new age composers — but when used with real sensitivity, the combination can achieve a kind of magic, setting the music into sound images of an idealized natural landscape, and psychologically transporting the listener from their normal environment.
On this transmission of Hearts of Space, we explore the mixture of natural sounds and music, on a program called AMERICAN SKIES. Music is by DAVID DARLING, PAUL WINTER, R. CARLOS NAKAI, BILL DOUGLAS, BRIAN KEANE, and BARRY STRAMP.