A Musical Celebration of the Family of Life on Earth
EarthChild will use music to bring the extraordinary voices of creatures from around the world to the ears and imaginations of kids, their families, and educators. The voices will be interwoven with voices and instruments from a variety of traditional cultures. EarthChild will also include accompanying educational materials about the creatures, habitats, instruments and cultures, and join with the wide movement spearheaded by Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods.
- to offer an adventure in deep-listening that can awaken in children (and all listeners) a sense of relatedness to the greater community of life on Earth.
- to give children an experience of the language of melody– learning and playing of melodies has been shown to develop bi-cameral intelligence in the brain.
We are at a critical point in our human journey on Earth, increasingly disassociated from the natural world that supports us. Awakening a sense of connection to the larger community of life is an essential task. We all are born with an innate “biophilia,” (what E.O. Wilson calls the “urge to affiliate with other forms of life.”) But this instinctive drive, a vital part of our growth as human beings, is developed in childhood, making it imperative that young people are given a chance to cultivate a sense of kinship with the natural world. Since our children spend 90% of their time inside, and an average of 50 hours a week plugged into a device, cut off from nature, we have to find new ways to bridge this divide.
without forging an emotional bond between ourselves and nature as well.
For we will not fight to save what we do not love.”
- Stephen Jay Gould“The Great Work of our time is to become integral
with the entire community of life.”
- Thomas Berry
Music has a unique role to play, able to touch hearts and also carry a message. New research shows the importance of the ear and listening as a pathway to the imagination. “Deeply felt music can stimulate quantum leaps into other forms of experience and understanding,” writes musicologist Jon-Roar Bjorkvold in The Muse Within. Rather than a cultural addendum to our lives, music has deep roots in human biology and neurology and is essential to our very nature as human beings.
Animal voices featured in EarthChild will include: Elephant, Mountain Gorilla, Indri (Africa); Pied Butcher Bird, Lyrebird (Australia); Uirapuru, Common Potoo (South America); Wolf, Loon, Great Horned Owl (North America); Weddell Seal (Antarctica); Red-Crowned Crane, Orangutan (Asia); Common Crane, Blackbird (Europe); Humpback Whale, Dolphin and Bearded Seal. The twelve instruments will include soprano sax, English horn, cello, bassoon, Heckelphone, French horn, Bulgarian kaval, Irish Uilleann pipes, Ugandan ennanga, Persian nei, and the yayli tanbur of Turkey.
EarthChild develops the lineage of the musical-ecological vision explored in Paul Winter’s albums Common Ground (1978), Callings: A Celebration of the Sea and its Voices (1980), Whales Alive (1987), Earth: Voices of a Planet (1990), and the Grammy®-winning Prayer for the Wild Things (1993). These albums were born out of Paul’s commitment to explore how music could be used, not only to enrich people’s lives, but also to awaken a spirit of involvement in the preservation of wildlife and the natural environment.
“The aural-vision for EarthChild was catalyzed while reading bedtime stories to my young daughters, who always insisted that the stories be about animals,” Paul Winter explains. “As we listened to the words, and looked at the pictures of the animals, I imagined how memorable it could be if the children also heard the voices of these creatures. Because the ear has a much deeper memory than the eye, perhaps these voices might become a part of the child’s life-community.”
Although primarily targeted at children, the project’s title EarthChild has resonance on several other levels: to remind us that every human is a child of the Earth; that the human is the youngest of our planet’s 15 million or more species of life; and that the Earth itself is a child of the Universe.