Introduction to the Sound Section:

After touch, sound is perhaps the most primal of all modalities. When we were still nascent beings, completely sightless in our mother’s womb, the sound of her heartbeat comforted and sustained us: the emotional reassurance of its regularity and stability contributed as much to our well-being as the physical nurturance of her blood pumping into ours.

Judeo-Christian ‘in the beginning…’ mythology tells us that all creation comes from the sounding of the word, as each part of the miracle was called forth into being. And our whole world of speech and language was developed out of our listening and responding to the sounds of the natural world, an idea David Abram has explored beautifully in The Spell of the Sensuous.

The power and influence of sound is deep and fathomless. From the seed syllables of Sanskrit, which are believed to open the psyche to awakened states of consciousness, to the rock concerts of the 60s, and movie scores of today, there is no art form more soothing, more stirring, more evocative and compelling than music.

Visual artist Christopher Castle, interviewed in the Image section of this issue, is also a musician – composing his work using patterns found in the natural world. Part 2 of my 1999 interview with him is included here, focusing on the experiences and ideas behind his unusually stirring sound creations. He provides the scores for his Anima Mundi collaborations with wife Kathyrn Roszak, one of which was reviewed in the Movement section.

I’ve included a brief conversation between ICE members Betsy Barnum and Robert Greenway, on an orchestra of crickets that inspired Betsy one day. I include it because it is one of the loveliest conversations I can remember hearing.

And saving a special treat for last, David Rothenberg and Marta Ulvaeus have gathered a rich and rewarding collection of essays and writings on music The Book of Music and Nature, reviewed by saxophonist Barbara Speed. Rothenberg and Ulvaeus reach back for musical inspiration and collaboration with nature from Rilke and Hazrat Inayat Khan, up through Brian Eno’s recent work with ambient sound. This impressive volume comes complete with illustrations and an incredible CD of recorded sound.