The Voice of the Planet is the Muse
The creation of environmental soundscape art, or audio productions based on field recordings of nature or human environments, is one aspect of a larger field of interest known as Acoustic Ecology.
The term acoustic ecology arose from the World Soundscape Project, based at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia during the early 1970s. Founded by R. Murray Schafer, the WSP studied acoustic environments in natural and human settings, and has spawned numerous books and diverse careers in philosophy, urban design, composition, and theater. Virtually all of the artists represented in this greenmuseum.org sound art show have been fundamentally influenced by Schafer's work. One of the key contributions of the WSP was to develop a vocabulary for investigating and describing the functions, social context, associations, and individual or community responses to various sorts of sounds encountered in our daily lives.
Related to acoustic ecology is the academic discipline of Bioacoustics, or the study of animal vocalizations and the perception of sound by animals, and the recent BioMusic project, which explores the ways that some animal songs bear melodic or structural resemblance to human musics, and so suggests that music may pre-date and transcend human history.
In more recent years, acoustic ecology has taken a larger role in environmental advocacy. Beginning with concerns about airplane overflights, and expanding to include conflicts between motorized and quiet recreation, protection of "soundscape resources" is becoming a part of the land management equation. The National Park Service has led the way in this regard, establishing a soundscape office that works to establish soundscape resource surveys in parks nationwide. Most recently, ocean noise has emerged as a "hot issue", centering on the effects of manmade noise on whales and fish. Recent reports from the National Academies of Science, Office of Naval Research, and non profit organizations have called for the creation of ocean-wide sound maps and better research into the effects of human noise on ocean wildlife.