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Biodiversity Blog


Insectum: A Sonic Exploration of the World of Arthropods



The sounds and rhythms of the natural world are often a great inspiration for the world’s composers, and no less so for UT researchers and local musicians. Over the last few years, Alex Wild (Curator, Entomology Collection) and Jo Holley (Associate Professor of Practice) have been participating in a fabulous sonic experiment with a prominent local film composer, Graham Reynolds. Reynolds is the composer of prominent films like A Scanner Darkly and Bernie.

The collaboration has resulted in an album project called "Insectum", which is, as the title suggests, an insect-themed avant garde composition. The work is described as “a sonic exploration of the resilience and beauty of the world’s oldest living multicellular creatures: arthropods.” It was initially inspired by the work of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 - 1717), a German entomologist, naturalist and scientific illustrator. She was one of the earliest European naturalists to document observations about insects directly.

To create this musical work, Reynolds audited Wild’s class BIO453L Entomology, a class that examines the biology, classification, and importance of insects. Reynolds worked with performers Susan Ibarra and Jeff Zeigler. Wild and Holley listened to and gave feedback on the group's early recordings.

The project’s intention is to not just create an amazing unique presentation, but to make audiences rethink their relationship to insects, many of whose populations are suffering from habitat loss and other challenges of climate change. The work is now complete and the public can come hear the results at an event at the KFMA studios. This event is Thursday, February 22, with a pre-performance talk at 6, followed by the performance at 7. Learn more about this event by clicking here.




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