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Responses in Music to Climate Change and Sources for Climate Change Research

From 4 to 8 October 2021, The Barry S. Brook Center for Music Research and Documentation hosts the virtual conference Responses in Music to Climate Change. The event brings together scholars, performers, composers, and activists, with the goal of exchanging ideas on musicians’ responses to changing ecosystems. It is one of the first academic conferences to consider how the arrival of Covid-19 has impacted musical practices already affected by anthropogenic climate change with the roundtable discussion Adaptations: Confronting Climate Change Amid Covd-19. The panel comprises scholars Aaron Allen (University of North Carolina at Greensboro), Mark Pedelty (University of Minnesota), Alexander Rehding (Harvard University),  Jeff Todd Titon (Brown University),  Denise von Glahn (Florida State University), and Holly Watkins (University of Rochester). 

The dramatic increase in climate pollution from global aviation has been well documented, fostering proposals by communities—scholarly and otherwise—to either curb or eliminate air travel, hold academic conferences less frequently, and include more options for remote participation. Accordingly, and in the interest of curbing the spread of Covid-19, the conference is completely virtual, comprising live and pre-recorded presentations and lectures—most followed by live-streamed Q&A. Registration is free and open to the public.

The conference’s keynote speaker is ethnomusicologist, visual/sound artist, and anthropologist Dr. Steven Feld (University of New Mexico). A MacArthur Fellowship recipient, Professor Feld’s work of the last 45 years in rainforest Papua New Guinea (Voices of the Rainforest [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 1995-7420], Sound and Sentiment [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 1982-5475]), Europe (The Time of Bells [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2004-41971]), and urban West Africa (Jazz Cosmopolitanism in Accra, [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2009-27214]) is published equally in sound, photographic/film, and textual media.

The opening day concludes with a pre-recorded talk by composer John Luther Adams, whose orchestral work Become Ocean was awarded the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Music, as well as a Grammy award. Additionally, the conference features an interview with composer Christopher Tin (first to win a Grammy Award for a videogame score) on the afternoon of Tuesday, October 5. 

In anticipation of the conference, Lori Rothstein, Editor at RILM, has compiled a bibliography, discography, and webography of sources related to music and climate change, most of which can be found in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature. These sources are listed below, with the hope that they will serve as a point of departure for future research.

Michael Lupo, Assistant Editor, RILM

Asterisks (*) identify authors/musicians who will take part in the Responses in Music to Climate Change conference.


*Allen, Aaron S. “Environmental changes and music”, Music in American life: An encyclopedia of the songs, styles, stars, and stories that shaped our culture, ed. by Jacqueline Edmondson (Santa Barbara: Greenwood, 2013) 418–421. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2013-50859]

Burtner, Matthew. “Sounding art climate change”, The Routledge companion to sounding art, ed. by Marcel Cobussen, Vincent Meelberg, and Barry Truax (New York: Routledge, 2016) 287–304. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2017-674]

Cooley, Timothy J. Cultural sustainabilities: Music, media, language, advocacy (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-5056]

*Feisst, Sabine. “Allô, ici la terre: Agency in ecological music composition, performance, and listening”, On active grounds: Agency and time in the environmental humanities, ed. Robert Boschman and Mario Trono. Environmental humanities (Calgary: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2019), 87–106. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-27030]

Post, Jennifer C.Climate change, mobile pastoralism, and cultural heritage in Western Mongolia”, Cultural sustainabilities: Music, media, language, advocacy, ed Timothy J. Cooley (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2019), 75–86. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-5064]

Quinn, Marty.Data as music: Why musically encoded sonification design offers a rich palette for information display”, Environmental sound artists: In their own words, ed. by Frederick W. Bianchi and V.J. Manzo (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 92–101. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2016-5398]

*Titon, Jeff Todd. Toward a sound ecology: New and selected essays. Music, nature, place (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2020). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-60874]

_____. “Sustainability, resilience, and adaptive management for applied ethnomusicology”, The Oxford handbook of applied ethnomusicology, ed. by Svanibor Pettan and *Jeff Todd Titon (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2015-6030]


*Adams, John Luther. Silences so deep: Music, solitude, Alaska (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-61095]

Ingram, David. The jukebox in the garden: Ecocriticism and American popular music since 1960. Nature, culture and literature (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2010-50555]

Monacchi, David. Fragments of Extinction: An eco-acoustic music project on primary rainforest biodiversity (Urbino: Edizioni ME, 2014). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2014-87198]

*Pedelty, Mark. A song to save the Salish Sea: Musical performance as environmental activism.Music, nature, place (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2016-5269]

_____. Ecomusicology: Rock, folk, and the environment (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2012-6252]

*Watkins, Holly. Musical vitalities: Ventures in a biotic aesthetics of music. New material histories of music (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2018-45388]


*Abels, Birgit. “‘It’s only the water and the rocks that own the land’: Sound knowledge and environmental change in Palau, Western Micronesia”, Asian-European music research e-journal 2 (2018) 21–32. https://cdn-cms.f-static.com/uploads/1266233/normal_5c219f9c55b34.pdf. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2018-11433]

*Allen, Aaron S.  “A “stubbornly persistent illusion”? Climate crisis and the North, ecomusicology and academic discourse”, European Journal of Musicology, 18/1 (2020) 16–35. https://doi.org/10.5450/EJM.18.1.2019.16. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-20596]

_____, *Jeff Todd Titon, and *Denise Von Glahn. “Sustainability and sound: Ecomusicology inside and outside the academy”, Music and politics 8/2 (summer 2014) 83–108. https://doi.org/10.3998/mp.9460447.0008.205.[RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2014-66057]

Barclay, Leah.Sonic ecologies: Exploring the agency of soundscapes in ecological crisis”, Soundscape: The journal of acoustic ecology, 12/1 (2013) 29–32. https://www.wfae.net/uploads/5/9/8/4/59849633/soundscape_volume12.pdf. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2013-46393]

Brennan, Matt and Kyle Devine. “The cost of music”, Popular Music 39/1 (February 2020) 43–65. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261143019000552. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-1536]

Burtner, Matthew. “Climate change music: From environmental aesthetics to ecoacoustics”, South Atlantic quarterly 116/1 (1 January 2017), 145–161. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-3749392. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2017- 61156]

Chisholm, Dianne.Shaping an ear for climate change: The silarjuapomorphizing music of Alaskan composer John Luther Adams”, Environmental humanities 8/2 (2016) 172–195. https://doi.org/10.1215/22011919-3664211. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2016-46641]

*Chung, Andrew. “Vibration, difference, and solidarity in the Anthropocene: Ethical difficulties of new materialist sound studies and some alternatives”, Resonance: The journal of sound and culture. 2/2 (2021) 218–241. https://doi.org/10.1525/res.2021.2.2.218. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2021-6586]

*Clark, Emily Hansell. “The ear of the Other: Colonialism and decolonial listening”, The quietus (23 January 2021) https://thequietus.com/articles/29445-sound-colonialism-and-decolonial-listening-focus-on-sound-emily-hansell-clark. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2021-6882]

Cline, Jake.How one composer channels climate grief into orchestral pieces–And why John Luther Adams turned from activism to art”, Sierra: The magazine of the Sierra Club (30 December 2020) https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/2021-1-january-february/mixed-media/how-one-composer-channels-climate-grief-orchestral-pieces-john-luther-adams. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-60871]

*Galloway, Kate.Listening to and composing with the soundscapes of climate change”, Resilience: A journal of the environmental humanities 7/2-3 (spring–fall 2020) 81–105. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-60872]

_____. “The aurality of pipeline politics and listening for nacreous clouds: Voicing Indigenous ecological knowledge in Tanya Tagaq’s Animism and Retribution”, Popular music 39/1 (February 2020) 121–144. https://doi.org/10.1017/S026114301900059X. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-1537]

Gilmurray, Jonathan. “Ecological sound art: Steps towards a new field”, Organised sound, 22/1 (April 2017) 32–41. https://doi:10.1017/S1355771816000315. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2017-885]

_____. “Sounding the alarm: An introduction to ecological sound art”, Muzikološki zbornik/Musicological annual 52/2 (2016), 71–84. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.52.2.71-84. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2016-22390]

Greene, Jayson. “What can music do during climate collapse?”, Pitchfork (22 April 2021) https://pitchfork.com/features/overtones/climate-change-music/. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2021-6841].

*Hawitt, Rowan Bayliss.“’It’s a part of me and I’m a part of it’: Ecological thinking in contemporary Scottish folk music”, Ethnomusicology forum 29/3 (2020) 333–355. https://doi.org/10.1080/17411912.2021.1897950. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-60873]

Kinnear, Tyler. “Voicing nature in John Luther Adams’s The place where you go to listen”, Organised sound 17/3 (December 2012), 230–239. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355771811000434. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2012-11550]

Meyers, Rachel and Carolyn Philpott. “Listening to Antarctica: Cheryl E. Leonard’s eco-acoustic creative practice”, Fusion journal 19 (2021) 64–77. https://fusion-journal.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Meyers-and-Philpot-Final-Listening-to-Antarctica.pdf. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2021-6587]

Monacchi, David.Fragments of Extinction: Acoustic biodiversity of primary rainforest ecosystems”, Leonardo music journal 23 (2013) 23–25. https://doi.org/10.1162/LMJ_a_00148. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2013-10768]

Ochoa Gautier, Ana María. “Acoustic multinaturalism, the value of nature, and the nature of music in ecomusicology”, Boundary 2: An international journal of literature and culture 43/1 (February 2016) 107–141. https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-3340661. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2016-44040]

*Parrotta, Priya. “When oceans meet: Musical diversity, environmentalism, and dialogue in a changing world”, Musiké: Revista del Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico, 7/1 (October 2019) 17–27. https://issuu.com/revistamusike/docs/musike_7_. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-9880]

*Pedelty, Mark, *Rebecca Dirksen, Tara Hatfield, *Yan Pang, and *Elja Roy. “Field to media: Applied ecomusicology in the Anthropocene”, Popular music 39/1 (February 2020) 22–42. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261143019000540. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-1541]

Peterson, Marina L. and Vicki L. Brennan. “A sonic ethnography: Listening to and with climate change”, Resonance 1/4 (winter 2020): 371–375. https://doi.org/10.1525/res.2020.1.4.371. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-54115]

Philpott, Caroline. “Sonic explorations of the southernmost continent: Four composers’ responses to Antarctica and climate change in the twenty-first century”, Organised sound 21/1 (April 2016) 83–93. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1355771815000400. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2016-734]

Ramnarine, Tina K. “Music and northern forest cultures,” European journal of musicology 18/1 (2019) 111–127. https://doi.org/10.5450/EJM.18.1.2019.111. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019/20602]

*Rehding, Alexander. “Ecomusicology between apocalypse and nostalgia”, Journal of the American Musicological Society 64/2 (summer 2011) 409–414. https://doi.org/10.1525/jams.2011.64.2.409. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2011-3936]

Ribac, François and Paul Harkins.”Popular music and the Anthropocene”, Popular music 39/1 (February 2020) 1–21. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261143019000539. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-1557]

Ritts, Max and Karen Bakker. “New forms: Anthropocene Festivals and experimental environmental governance”, Environment and planning E: Nature and space (26 November 2019) https://doi.org/10.1177/2514848619886974. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-27032]

*Safran, Benjamin A. “’A gentle, angry people’: Music in a Quaker nonviolent direct-action campaign to power local green jobs,” Yale journal of music and religion 5/2 (2019) 82–102. https://doi.org/10.17132/2377-231X.1140. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-14114]

Sakakibara, Chie.”’No whale, no music’: Iñupiaq drumming and global warming”, Polar record: A journal of Arctic and Antarctic research 45/4 (October 2009) 289–303. https://doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0032247408008164. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2009-48488]

Seabrook, Deborah. “Music therapy in the era of climate crisis: Evolving to meet current needs”, The arts in psychotherapy 68 (March 2020) Article 101646, 8 p. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aip.2020.101646. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2020-60875]

St. George, Scott, Daniel Crawford, Todd Reubold, and Elizabeth Giorgi. “Making climate data sing: Using music-like sonifications to convey a key climate record”, Bulletin of the American Meterological Society 98/1 (2017) 23–27. https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-15-00223.1. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2017-61069]

Sweers, Britta. “Environmental perception and activism through performance: Alpine song and sound impressions”, European journal of musicology 18/1 (2019) 138–159. https://doi.org/10.5450/EJM.18.1.2019.138. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-20604]

*Von Glahn, Denise R. “Sounds real and imagined: Libby Larsen’s Up where the air gets thin”, European journal of musicology 18/1 (2019) 99–110. https://doi.org/10.5450/EJM.18.1.2019.99. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-20601]

*Wodak, Josh. “If a seed falls in a forest: Sounding out seedbanks to sonify climate change”, Unlikely: Journal for creative arts 4 (2018) http://unlikely.net.au/issue-03/seed-in-space-sound-in-time. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2018-64229]

_____. “Popular music & depopulated species: Probing life at the limits in song and science”, Music and arts in action 6/3 (2018) 3–18. http://www.musicandartsinaction.net/index.php/maia/article/view/175. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2018-44013]

_____. “Shifting baselines: Conveying climate change in popular music”, Environmental communication 12 (2018) 58–70. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17524032.2017.1371051. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2018-54590]

Dissertations and Theses

Gervin, Kelly. Music and environmentalism in twenty-first century American popular culture (M.Mus. thesis, Bowling Green State University, 2017). http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=bgsu1494162797534902. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2017-49202]

Gilmurray, Jonathan.Ecology and environmentalism in contemporary sound art (Ph.D. diss., University of the Arts London, 2018). https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/13705/. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2018-50689]

Hilgren, Bailey. The music of science: Environmentalist data sonifications, interdisciplinary art, and the narrative of climate change (M.Mus. thesis, Florida State University, 2019). http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/2019_Spring_Hilgren_fsu_0071N_15127. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-27031]

Kasprzyk, Cory Ryan. Found composition: Ecological awareness and its impact on compositional authority in music employing electronics (DMA diss., Bowling Green State University, 2017). http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=bgsu1510572689037113. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2017-49201]    

Online Essays, Podcasts, Websites, and Videos

Adamo, Mark. https://www.markadamo.com/.

*Adams, John Luther. “Global warming and art (2003)”, http://johnlutheradams.net/global-warming-and-art-essay/.

_____. “The end of winter”, https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-end-of-winter.

Cape Farewell. https://capefarewell.com/.

Chain, Lydia. “Capturing the songs of a changing climate”, Undark, 48 (22 September 2020) https://undark.org/2020/09/22/podcast-48-acoustic-ecology/.

Climate Keys. http://www.climatekeys.com/.

ClimateMusic. https://climatemusic.org/.

Climate Stories Project. https://www.climatestoriesproject.org/climate-music.html.

Crawford, Daniel and Scott St. George. “Planetary bands, warming world”, https://planetbands.mystrikingly.com/.

Currin, Grayson Haver. “Music for our emergency”, NPR music (5 December 2019) https://www.npr.org/2019/12/05/784818349/songs-our-emergency-how-music-approaching-climate-change-crisis.

Dunn, David. http://davidddunn.com/ASL/Welcome.html.

Earthsound. https://www.earthsoundmusic.net.

Eureka Ensemble. “Rising Tides: Confronting the climate crisis through music”, https://www.eurekaensemble.org/rising-tides.

*Feld, Steven. http://www.stevenfeld.net/.

_____. and Panayotis Panopoulos. “Athens conversation: On ethnographic listening and comparative acoustemologies” (30 April 2015) https://static1.squarespace.com/static/545aad98e4b0f1f9150ad5c3/t/5543bb7de4b0b5d7d7bb3d58/1430502269571/Athens+Conversation.pdf.

_____. Iracema Dulley, Evanthia Patsiaoura, et. al. “Sounding anthropology: A jam session with Steven Feld” n.d. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/545aad98e4b0f1f9150ad5c3/t/5fbf1a54173fb5383b932d46/1606359637987/Sounding+Anthropology.pdf.

Fragments of Extinction. http://www.fragmentsofextinction.org/fragments-of-extinction/.

Harris, Yolande. https://www.yolandeharris.net/.

Howe, Cymene and Dominic Boyer. “Matthew Burtner”, Cultures of energy: The energy humanities podcast. 96 (19 October 2017) http://culturesofenergy.com/ep-96-matthew-burtner/.

Jones, Lucy. “The music of climate change”, Dr. Lucy Jones (15 May 2019) http://drlucyjones.com/the-music-of-climate-change/.

Legacies of the Enlightenment: Humanity, Nature, and Science in a Changing Climate.  https://legaciesoftheenlightenment.hcommons.org/.

Mauleverer, Charles. “Can music ever be green? An overview of the changing musical climate”, (12 April 2019) https://www.charlesmauleverer.com/post/2019/04/12/Can-Music-Ever-Be-Green-An-Overview-Of-The-Changing-Musical-Climate.

Miles, Emily. “Empathy through environmental music, Part 1”. In this climate (3 February 2020) https://www.stitcher.com/show/in-this-climate/episode/empathy-through-environmental-music-part-1-67058147.

_____. “Empathy through environmental music, Part 2”, In this climate (3 February 2020) https://www.stitcher.com/show/in-this-climate/episode/empathy-through-environmental-music-part-2-67062837.

Orchestra for the Earth. https://www.orchestrafortheearth.co.uk/.

*Perrin, Lola.http://www.lolaperrin.com/lolaperrin.

Quin, Douglas.http://www.douglasquin.com/.

Reubold, Todd. “A song of our warming planet”, Ensia (28 June 2013) https://ensia.com/videos/a-song-of-our-warming-planet/.

_____. “What global warming sounds like from the Amazon to the Arctic”, Ensia (7 May 2015) https://ensia.com/videos/what-climate-change-sounds-like-from-the-amazon-to-the-arctic/.

*Tin, Christopher. https://christophertin.com/.

*Titon, Jeff Todd.“Music in a changing climate”, Sustainable music (1 September 2015) https://sustainablemusic.blogspot.com/2015/09/music-in-changing-climate.html.

*Twedt, Judy. Connecting to climate change through music. (2018) https://tedxseattle.com/talks/connecting-to-climate-change-through-music/.

Westerkamp, Hildegard.The disruptive nature of listening” (18 August 2015) https://www.hildegardwesterkamp.ca/writings/writingsby/?post_id=11&title=the-disruptive-nature-of-listening.

Yakutchik, MaryAlice.Composer records beetles to mark climate change”, NPR music (10 March 2008). https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=88074919.


*Adams, John Luther, Become trilogy. CD (Canteloupe Music CA21161, 2020).

_____. Lines made by walking. CD (Cold Blue Music, CB 0058 (2020).

Burtner, Matthew. Auksalaq: Live at the Phillips Collection. DVD (EcoSono, 2013).

_____. Glacier music. CD (Ravello Records RR8001, 2019).

_____. Six ecoacoustic quintets/Avian telemetry (Ravello Records RR8040, 2020).

Sayre, Mike. Music for icebergs. CD (Teknofonic Recordings, 2017).

*Tin, Christopher. The drop that contained the sea. CD (DeccaGold, 2014).

Volsness, Kristin. The year without a summer. CD (New Focus Recordings DCR218, 2018).

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Cowshed soundscaping

Cows respond strongly to changes in the muted, subliminal strata of the cowshed soundscape; the elimination of such sounds, or their masking through music and other designed sound foregrounds, causes pronounced disturbances in the animals’ physiology and behavior.

A positive soundscaping for cowsheds must take advantage of the subjective implications of sounds such as the first moo of a newborn calf, which carries the strongest psychological impact even if it cannot be described as aesthetically beautiful.

This according to “The blessed noise and little moo: Aspects of soundscape in cowsheds” by Maru Pöyskö, an essay included in Soundscapes: Essays on vroom and moo (Tampere: Tampereen Yliopisto, Kansanperinteen Laitos, 1994). Below, a newborn calf demonstrates the little moo.

Related article: Radio for cows


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