EcoAcoustics

Ecoacoustics is the study of ecological acoustics, in which vibrational energy, sonification and human-nature interaction are examined through technological mediation (such as transduction and computation), using scientific methods to parse the environment through acoustics. In parallel with Ecoacoustic Science, Ecoacoustic Music and Sound Art applies these methods towards the production of knowledge as a form of sonic art, rather than as scientific discovery. Similarly, Ecoacoustic Studies applies the methods for scholarly ends. The field is newly becoming highly interdisciplinary, enabling music, science and scholarship to synergize in exciting ways. 

This page links to two of Burtner's ecoacoustics-focused organizations: EcoSono, a 501(c)(3) not for profit corporation; and the Coastal Conservatory at the University of Virginia. 

www.EcoSono.org: Environmental Sound Art for a Sustainable Future

www.CoastalConservatory.org: Sounding Science and Listening for Coastal Futures

Matthew Burtner's  music is closely aligned with environmental and computer sciences. He collaborates with scientists to investigate the natural world and create new knowledge through sound. Burtner concentrates on the aesthetic dimension of ecoacoustics, producing sonic art rather than scientific research. He focuses on the broader impacts of sound by collaborating with scientists on core scientific questions through an interdisciplinary approach. Burtner pioneered ecoacoustic music in the 1990s as he developed techniques to compose climate change music. He was inspired by the work of Iannis Xenakis who sonified natural systems, and by Barry Truax who combined soundscape techniques with computational approaches. He moved to Paris to work in Xenakis' lab after receiving his undergraduate degree, and he went to work in Truax' lab and the World Soundscape Project studios at Simon Fraser following his Masters Degree studies. He was driven to invent the technique by the imperative of global warming that was dramatically altering his home in the north. Burtner gradually adopted environmental science methods into musical composition and started describing his work as "ecoacoustic music" in the 1990s while he was a Doctoral student at Stanford University and the CCRMA. Works such as Snowprints, Siku Unipkaaq, Sikuigvik, Fern, and Mists explored a diverse approach of performance with natural materials, sonification and field recording.  ​ Now he often works alongside scientists, composing music using scientific methodology as a kind of new music theory. ​ Matthew regularly gives talks at Universities about this research and he has been a featured presenter at NASA Goddard Space Center, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Conference, the University of Michigan Humanities Center, Rice University's Cultures of Energy Conference, and many others. EcoSono Ensemble is available for bookings at all kinds of events, including scientific meetings and universities. He currently works on NSF broader impact projects with several research grants.  ​ ​ ​ ​

Seagrass SonificationMatthew Burtner
00:00 / 05:54

Seagrass Sonification by Matthew Burtner of  of research by Karen McGlathery and Peter Berg

"Speed of Sound in an Ice Rain" field recording and instrumental music

"Sonification of an Arctic Lagoon" by Matthew Burtner of research by Beaufort Lagoons Ecosystem (BLE) LTER