Viva La Selva!

(Long live the forest!)

Duration 17`30
Natasha Barrett 1999

In four continuous sections:

1. Morning introduction (claiming territory)

2. Midday heat (mad insects, mellow birds and lazy day dreams)

3. Dancing at night (a frenzied bizarre)

4. Dawn and rain (long live the forest!)

In the New Year of 1999 a number of items of recording apparatus, a colleague, and myself travelled to a Central American rain forest. The aim of this adventure was to record animal vocalisations over a continuous 24-hour period with a microphone array. The data we recorded was used for bioacoustic research and music composition.

In "Viva la Selva", source sounds, the locations of animal vocalisations, the vocal and spatial relationships between different animal species, the change in dynamics over the 24 hour period, and my experience venturing through a dense jungle, daytime and night-time, all contribute to the musical and narrative structure.

Most of the source sounds are insect, bird, frog and monkey calls. In the jungle, some of these animals can be seen, while other bizarre sounds do not reveal their causes. After some days in the forest, the spectral distribution of the sound environment revealed interesting inter-species sound relationships, and this idea is manifest in the composition where many animal calls have been temporally and spatially substituted by human vocal articulations.

"Viva la Selva" stars mantled howler monkeys, white capped manakin birds, poison arrow frogs, cikadas, tink frogs, oropendola birds, tinamou birds, a humming bird, mosquitoes, a single engine aeroplane, and numerous other forest and forest-edge animals.

"Viva la Selva" was created in the electroacoustic studio of the music conservatory in Tromsų, Norway. The work was commissioned by NICEM (Norwegian section of the ICEM), with support from the Norwegian composers' fund. The work was selected for the finals of both Concours Scrime, France 2000, and International Electroacoustic Creation Competition of Ciber@rt, Italy, 2000.