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How does the author express climate change into music?
- He uses special software programs.
- He follows data sonification.
- He works with the composer who finds creative ways to express climate signals in music.
Presenter: Today in our studio we meet Steve Brown who initiated a new creative project. Why did you want to create the Climate Music Project, Steve?
Steve Brown: It’s really that at the time, I’d just finished a degree in environmental sciences and was looking for ways to combine my new knowledge with my artistic ideas. Climate change is a big issue and for a lot of people it feels like something that’s very abstract, and something we’ll live in the future, not necessarily today. And I wanted to find a way to give the idea that it is a very serious issue and that we can still solve the problem, in a way that would be understood broadly across many different communities. And music seemed to be a natural way for doing so.
Presenter: How do you express climate change into musical compositions?
Steve Brown: There are different ways you can do it. There are software programs that you can use to essentially transfer data straight into some kind of sound. The problem with presenting data through sounds is that it’s noise, generally speaking. Because it just follows the data. We made a very reasonable decision not to use that approach, but to work with a real science team to really find out where the important signals are in the data, and then to work with the composer to find creative ways to express those signals in a musical way that would be understandable for people. And that’s done by giving musical analogs to different aspects in the climate system. For example in the piece we’re currently performing, we’re modeling four aspects: CO2, Earth’s energy balance, atmospheric temperature of the Earth, and ocean Ph. And each one of those has an analog in the music.
Presenter: HYPERLINK «http://www.theclimatemusicproject.org/ faqs/» The website says the performance is most appropriate for adults and children 12 years and older. Why?
Steve Brown: My initial sense was that the music might sound a little bit too loud for small kids. Later I was proved wrong. In one of our concerts, we were at the conservatory in Oakland, I was watching the audience and a whole group of fourth graders came in and I was thinking, “Oh no, this is not going to be so great.” But the fourth graders loved it actually. In fact, one of them even stood up in front of 220 people or so in the audience and asked about the data at the end of the concert, because the class is doing a unit on climate change. I think it really depends on the maturity of the individual child because the music gets sort of loud and a little bit experimental.
Presenter: How do you engage people to care about climate change?
Steve Brown: People can feel it, because they can sense the rhythm, because they can feel it even in their own body, and they’re looking at historical references and where we are, where we might be going, it’s a much more instinctive, much more sensory experience. And that conveys a whole different sense of understanding. So what we want to do is we want to take that new understanding and we want to make easier the process of helping people in our audiences connect and channel that energy in very positive ways. The way we do that, we’re building out a network of both climate literacy and action organizations that we can then link our audiences directly to.
Presenter: What’s in the future of the Climate Music Project?
Steve Brown: For the project to really reach a lot of people and to have an impact, we need to have more content, because any one piece of music is only going to appeal to so many people. Our goal is to create lots of content in different genres of music. Starting in 2018, we’ll be developing a tool that will allow us to essentially work with composers pretty much anywhere, to create shorter work that would have a local appeal, whether it’s in Africa, whether it’s in Asia, whether it’s in South America.
Presenter: What’s the key target of the project?
Steve Brown: Ultimately, the main goal that we’re aiming for — we’re not there yet and we probably won’t be there for about year — would be interactive performances, where the audience could also in some way take part in the performance. We’d like to integrate ways for people to interact with the music, dance pieces for example. The more people can interact with the music and feel the music, the more meaningful it will be to them.