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The popular New Sounds Live series returns to the Winter Garden this October! Curated by WNYC‘s John Schaefer, New Sounds offers dynamic music from artists, composers, and traditional musicians.
This year’s series features “Song of the Human,“ an Arts Brookfield commissioned composition by Pete M. Wyer inspired by Shigeru Miyagawa’s theory that human language evolved from birdsong. The sound installation will also be a part of three performances within the Winter Garden, and will remain on display through October 23.
STATEMENT FROM COMPOSER PETE M. WYER:
“We use pitch, rhythm, tone and dynamic as part of our speech. Or to put it another way: when we speak, we speak in music. But something rather wonderful happens when we remove words and listen only to that music; potentially divisive elements such as race, nationality, religion, gender all disappear. What you’re left with is what I call the Song of the Human.
This musical layer of language is so easily overlooked that exploring it can feel like encountering ‘human’ as a new species. The reason it fascinates me is that in this song, we get a glimpse of our ‘inwardness,’ our inner nature; we might hear love, hope, playfulness, fear and other states of mind and emotion but whatever we find we find in all people—and in what sometimes feel like divisive times, I find this a reassuring observation.
A credible theory advanced by Professor Shigeru Miyagawa of MIT is that the ‘expressive’ layer of human speech is evolved from birdsong (Charles Darwin seemed to believe the same). When I listen to the extraordinary virtuosity and intricacy of both birdsong and speech, I need no convincing.
In creating Song of the Human, I wanted to consider the human as part of nature as well as the nature of being human—what we share in music when we abandon words. In order to do this, the piece takes an unusual form: it is both an immersive sound installation that places speakers above, below and around the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place, and a concert work featuring a live choir performing with immersive sound in