Stephen Preston


Ecosonics engages acoustic and electroacoustic performers in an experimental, risk-taking approach to improvisation. Ecosonic improvisations are edgy, moment-to-moment dialogues between players and their sonic environment in which timing is of the essence. Ecosonics exposes the players to fundamental musical processes working with raw sound materials, exploring instruments and/or the physical environment in as unbounded a way as possible, as noise producing objects—there are no no-go areas. The basic forms and structures for the improvisations are founded on research into bioacoustic communication, particularly birdsong and non-verbal, human interactions.

Bioacoustic Background

Ecosonics grew out of research into birdsong as a model for new techniques and forms of improvisation. A number of simple models emerged:

  • duetting, chorusing etc
  • aggression
  • defining territory
  • courtship

The perceived relationship of birdsong and call to human music and the sounds of human communication offers a way of approaching the affective relationship between many living creatures and their sonic and social evironments. Ecosonics explores the possibilities and politics of this affective relationship to sound and uses it as a starting point for raw music making.

Applications: Who and What Ecosonics is for

Ecosonics starts from the view that humans beings are naturally musical. It can be used by both trained musicians and those with no musical training whatsoever. Ecosonics is dialogue—listening, hearing, responding, stating. Because instruments are used freely as voices rather than requiring any degree of traditional technical command, ecosonics can employ the raw materials of music, spontaneous communication at a fundamental musical level employing any contextually appropriate sounds and silences evoked in the moment-to-moment interactions.