R. Murray Schafer recently passed away on August 14th 2021. If you’re someone who works with sound or enjoys sound art or experimental music–or you’ve just thrown around the word “soundscape”–you’ve probably engaged with his intellectual legacy. Schafer was one of Canada’s most influential avant-garde composers. He was also the creator of acoustic ecology, the founder of the World Soundscape Project, and the author of the classic book The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World. He brought a musician’s ear to the field of ecology and he brought an ecological perspective to music. And he bequeathed us a generative vocabulary for talking about and thinking about sound.
This is the first of a two-part series on R. Murray Schafer. Next month, we speak with two of Schafer’s critics–Mitchell Akiyama and Jonathan Sterne. But today, we speak with three of Schafer’s associates to understand the person, his creative works, and his lasting impact on the study of sound:
- Ellen Waterman, ethnomusicologist, flutist, and Schafer expert
- Hildegard Westerkamp, soundscape composer and member of the World Soundscape Project
- Eric Leonardson, sound artist and President of the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology
Creative works heard on today’s show:
- Listen, a short film on Schafer, directed by David New.
- Snowforms, R. Murray Schafer
- The Greatest Show, R. Murray Schafer
- The Crown Of Ariadne, R. Murray Schafer
- Wolf Music V: Nocturne, R. Murray Schafer
- Le Testament, Ezra Pound
- Loving, R. Murray Schafer
- Beneath the Forest Floor, Hildegard Westerkamp
- Miniwanka, R. Murray Schafer