The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origin of Music in the World's Wild Places


The Great Animal Orchestra: Finding the Origin of Music in the World's Wild Places reveals the natural world thorough Dr. Bernie Krause’s pioneering discoveries in the field of biophony—that is, all the wild noises in a given area absent of humans and man-made structures. Dr. Krause, who has spent the last 40 years recording ecological soundsacapes worldwide, has archived the sounds of over 15,000 species. Throughout Dr. Krause’s career as a bioacoustician, he has observed firsthand that the noises from urban areas have forced animals to change their calls to compete with man-made noises that would otherwise mask their voices. In fact, over 40% of the original field-recording locations have been lost because of habitat degradation and human noise. Through Krause's firsthand accounts of recording in natural environments throughout the world, The Great Animal Orchestra explores how natural sounds have influenced our own music and shows why it is critical to preserve what remaining soundscapes we have.


North American publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Foreign rights sold: Brazilian to Zahar; Chinese (simplified) to Commercial Press; French to Flammarion; Korean to Eidos Publishing; UK and Commonwealth to Profile Books

Foreign rights: Little, Brown and Company, Tracy Williams (

Film rights: Gillian MacKenzie (


"An imaginative introduction to a new dimension of the natural world."—Kirkus Reviews


“Bernie Krause and his niche theory are the real thing. His originality, research, and above all basic knowledge of the sound environments in nature are impressive. The idea of music originating in the sound communication systems of wild animals is a sound and provocative hypothesis. I admire also his attention to the preservation of ancestral-level cultures for their own value but also as a testing ground for theory on human behavioral evolution.”
—E. O. Wilson, Pulitzer Prize-winning biologist and researcher


 “The Great Animal Orchestra speaks to us of an ancient music to which so many of us are deaf.  Bernie Krause is, above all, an artist. I have watched him recording the calls of chimpanzees, the singing of the insects and birds, and seen his deep love for the harmonies of nature. In this book he helps us to hear and appreciate the often hidden musicians in a new way. But he warns that these songs, an intrinsic part of the natural world and essential to human well being, are vanishing, one by one, snuffed out by human actions. Read The Great Animal Orchestra, tell your friends about it. And as Bernie urges, let us all do our part to preserve the age old sounds of nature.”
—Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, Founder - the Jane Goodall Institute & UN Messenger of Peace


“Krause always reveals wondrous stories of the meaning of music and sounds of our natural environment. Bernie’s research into the subtleties of animal and insect sounds is unparalleled, but it is his description of the radical changes that are taking place on this planet that really makes on stop and wonder… Listen carefully, for the sounds you hear may never be the same again.”—Sir George Martin


“Krause shows us the music of the natural world – long may his work continue!”
—Pete Seeger


"Discover how each species has its own coval niche in the intricate soundscape of a stable ecosystem."—Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation


"This fascinating book awakens our ancient ears to the source of all music. Read it, and you'll yearn to muffle our din–and hear anew."
—Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us


"Bernie Krause, one of the lions of soundscape recording, shares his tales of jaguars, wind, and waterfalls, and how hard it is to capture their sounds. Who knew before that the most emotional animal sound he ever heard was the wail of a beaver after seeing his dam destroyed? Krause has spent decades hunting for those few sonic oases untrammelled by human noise, and at last he brings us his life philosophy. This expansive tale of living amidst wild and beautiful sounds has been well worth waiting for."—David Rothenberg, author of Why Birds Sing, Thousand Mile Song and Survival of the Beautiful


"A vade mecum of ordered tranquillity -- a gift that came with the harmony of the spheres, allowing even the smallest livings things to sing love songs in many diverse ways while bragging that they are the fittest and will survive above the cacophony of war. A fascinating book of natural history, worthy to be read in the silence your own library; please listen to what it warns about all our futures."
—David Bellamy, author of Conflicts in the Countryside: The New Battle for Britain


"Bernie Krause will make you rethink much of what you know about music. A man whose first job was recording the sound of corn growing in a Kansas field, he has spent 40 years listening with professional intent to things the rest of us ever hear. He has studied the way ants sing and whales roar. He can track the sound a virus makes as it moves from one surface to another. Krause is David Attenborough without the pictures and accompanying orchestra. He takes us close to the roots of the music and reminds us to stop and listen, not just lose our bearings in noise. It’s such an unusual book -- and, in its quiet way, so important. Remarkable."—Norman Lebrecht, author of Why Mahler?


"Krause’s well-honed expert voice is the perfect guide through the complexities of sound."The Ecologist