Audio artist captures voices of the ocean

June 2, 2010 7:32:25 PM PDT
Seventy percent of the earth is covered by ocean and much of that watery environment is in serious trouble -- long before the oil leak in the gulf. Thursday night, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco hosts a ground-breaking musical performance designed to get people thinking about the importance of the oceans.

Halsey Burgund is a sound artist and a musician. He has set up his keyboard to play human voices as if they were musical notes.

"One key is one certain voice," he said. "I can trigger these voices. They are children's voices talking about what the world would be like without oceans."

At a rehearsal at the Morrison Planetarium at the California Academy of Sciences, a high tech space with fabulous acoustics, Burgund uses a graphics tablet to move the sound from place to place.

The focus is on audio, but there is also video of stunning ocean scenes.

Halsey started the project with Academy scientist Wallace J. Nichols. They used cell phones and the Internet to record voices from all over the world talking about the ocean.

"From kids and adults, seniors, scuba divers, fishermen, people who just love to walk on the beach," Nichols said.

Their website allows people to record their own voice and hear what others say.

Halsey has been doing this type of performance for years -- combining live music with spoken voices.

The San Francisco performance will focus on oceans in honor of Jacques Cousteau's 100th birthday and the second World Oceans Day. It is a celebration, but with a serious purpose.

"We're facing an ocean crisis on many fronts, whether it's the oil spill or overfishing or plastic pollution," Nichols said. "And in order to solve it we can't just wait around for other people to solve it, we all need to be part of this. We all need to bring our voice and bring our actions."

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney

Before tomorrow night's performance, two of Jacgues Cousteau's grandchildren will be speaking about the future of our oceans. The show is part of the California Academy of Sciences weekly Nightlife event. Tickets are $12. For more information go to: http://www.calacademy.org/events/oceanvoices/

Ocean Voices is an ongoing project. To record your voice and listen to what other people have to say go to: http://www.oceanvoices.org/


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