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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ecosystem as descriptor

     One of the key concepts in the argument for a sound commons for all living beings is the ecosystem, an ecological paradigm that stresses the interconnectedness of animals, plants, and minerals within a bounded geographical area. Interconnectedness is also one of the four principles I identified in my work on musical and cultural sustainability.[1] Of course, there is much more to an ecosystem than interconnectedness; and fifty years ago when the concept governed ecological science, ecologists worked with mathematical models to determine the flow of energy among the components of ecosystems. Nowadays, the word ecosystem is cropping up all over the place. I began to notice this a while ago, in the phrase “the Apple ecosystem.” Today it’s difficult to find an article about a new Apple or Google product that doesn’t speak metaphorically of their ecosystems. Now that I’m watching for it, I also see the term to describe the financial ecosystem, the urban ecosystem, and the digital ecosystem. Ecosystem hasn’t yet become as ubiquitous as the word sustainable, but it won’t be long before it does.
    What can ecosystem mean outside of its ecological science context? I’ve seen it used, first, as a synonym for system where “eco” appears to add value but doesn’t because “system” will do just as well by itself. Second, it's used as a synonym for an integrated but closed system. Third, it appears as a descriptor for an open, interdependent, co-evolving community, a complex system with a degree of uncertainty--predictions of its behavior cannot be more than probable. It is this last usage that is of particular interest to me. Tellingly, although they imply opposite kinds of systems (closed vs. open), both the second and third usages arose from interpretations of Apple’s business model.
     As a synonym for an integrated but closed system, it comes up in phrases such as “locked into the Apple ecosystem.” Here it refers to how Apple components (hardware, software and media) work with one another but not with non-Apple components.  For example, writing in The Guardian (UK), Benjamin Cohen reviewed the new iPhone 5: “. . . the real reason this device will still be a success and why I upgraded to another iPhone recently, is that all the applications and content I've purchased over the past four years will only work on an Apple product. I'm locked into the Apple ecosystem just like tens of millions of others. That's the true magic of Apple, luring us into using their pieces of technology and then selling us applications, music and video that are locked to their proprietary formats and products. It's a clever tactic and one that looks like it'll keep us hooked for a years to come.” [2]
    Such descriptions of the Apple ecosystem emphasize the pleasure as well as the pain of the tender trap. Here is another: “Every couple of months articles crop up on the Internet calling Apple’s ecosystem a ‘walled garden’ or a ‘golden cage.’ These articles usually try to convince the reader that Apple has lured users into a trap using design/popularity/marketing, shut the door behind them and thrown away the key.” [3]
    The third contemporary usage of “ecosystem” also describes an integrated system, but one that is open rather than closed. Interdependence and evolution are emphasized. A recent book review is a case in point: ”Might DNA be likened to a digital program, and might computer programs themselves evolve within our complex ecosystem of information technology and assume virtual life?” [4] The ideal digital ecosystem is similar: an open, collaborative platform.
    James F. Moore, a systems theorist, applied this open system ecological model to business communities. In a 1993 article, Moore argued that successful contemporary corporations were changing from traditional, vertically integrated, competitive organizations to innovative, collaborative institutions working with partner organizations (suppliers, distributors, accessory-makers) as well as customers in co-evolving communities of common interest and purpose. In his view, successful corporations did not compete with each other so much as build business ecosystems. For an illustration he compared Apple's successful computer community with the older logic of the Tandy organization. Readers born before 1975 might remember the Tandy TRS-80, a popular personal computer from the mid-1980s that ceased manufacture. By contrast, Steve Jobs was said to have built not just computers but the business equivalent of a surviving ecological community. [5]
    Moore’s 1996 book, The Death of Competition, elaborates the business ecosystem analogy explicitly and in great detail. He defines a business ecosystem as follows: “An economic community supported by a foundation of interacting organizations and individuals—the organisms of the business world. This economic community produces goods and services of value to consumers, who are themselves members of the ecosystem. The member organisms also include suppliers, lead producers, competitors [sic] and other stakeholders. Over time, they co-evolve their capabilities and roles . . ." [6].
    As I pointed out earlier in this blog, back in 1984 I published my thoughts on how music cultures were ecosystems, with music in a musical community circulating like energy in an ecological community. [7] But although I made a comparison to a biological ecosystem to describe worlds of musical activity, as Moore used it ten years later to describe worlds of business activity, I did not publish an article and a book elaborating the concept. Ten years later, Moore did, and his remarkable work deserves further attention, which I will reserve for the next blog entry.
     Suffice it to say now that while Moore views business ecosystems as politically revolutionary, progressive and positive, those who think of them as closed systems regard them as dangerous manifestations of late capitalism. For another, as the word ecosystem becomes increasingly ubiquitous in public discourse, its meaning diffuses outside of its original and precise context in ecological science; and this must be taken into account in descriptions of communication among creatures—perhaps “ecological community” rather than ecosystem is a more worthy term, though the word “community” has problems of its own.
     Finally, of course, whereas ecosystem as a concept can fairly be said to have organized the discipline of ecology for most of the 20th century, challenges eventually arose to the idea that nature behaved systematically at all. Ecosystem’s association with the increasingly problematic paradigm of stability, climax, holism and the balance of nature seemed too teleological, lessened its usefulness, and after about 1980 displaced it from the center of ecological science, even as it was gaining ground as a metaphor elsewhere. Yet despite its lowered status, other aspects associated with ecosystem, such as biodiversity and interdependence, retain their central importance in contemporary ecological science.

Notes

[1] Jeff Todd Titon, “Music and Sustainability: An Ecological Viewpoint,” The World of Music, Vol. 51, no. 1 (2009), pp. 119-137.
[2] Benjamin Cohen, “Caught in an Apple World,” The Guardian (UK), Sept. 13, 2012, at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/13/iphone-5-caught-in-apple-world
[3]  “The state of Apple’s Ecosystem lock-in, and where we’re at today,” Macgasm essay (no author named),  Feb. 9, 2012, at http://www.macgasm.net/2012/02/09/state-apples-ecosystem-lockin/
[4] Michael Saler, review of George Dyson, Turning’s Cathedral, Times Literary Supplement, nos. 5725 & 5726, Dec. 21 and 28, 2012, p. 31.
[5] James F. Moore, “Predators and Prey: A New Ecology of Competition,” Harvard Business Review, May-June, 1993, pp. 76-85.
[6] James F. Moore, The Death of Competition: Leadership and Strategy in the Age of Business Ecosystems, New York, HarperCollins, 1996, p. 26.
[7] Jeff Todd Titon, Worlds of Music, New York, Schirmer Books, 1984, p. 9.

The photo at the beginning of this entry shows new growth of skunk cabbages arising from roots in the fall as the old spring growth decays. The new, green spaeths and decaying, blackened spadices are apparent. Click on the photo to enlarge it for better viewing. Photograph by Jeff Todd Titon, East Penobscot Bay, September, 2012.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Sound Commons for All Living Beings

Martin Johnson Heade (1819-1904): Orchids, Nesting Hummingbirds, and a Butterfly
     Human beings should attempt to manage the soundscape as a sound commons to permit all creatures to communicate with one another in their acoustic niches. That is my thesis, but it requires elaborating and defending. Besides, these questions regarding the sound environment are part of a larger public discourse concerning whether and how to manage the natural environment, a discourse that historically has been bound up with economics in a variety of important ways. Recall that ecology and economics come from the same Greek root, oikos, meaning household.
    Elaborating this argument requires discussion of several concepts and resolution of a number of questions and objections. For example, while the law recognizes that you and I can own and exchange the fruits of our labor, whether goods or ideas, what sense can it possibly make to say that the chickadees that visit your bird feeder own their songs? Yet without song they could not signal one another and without communication they could not live. Commons, animal communication, soundscape, sound-world, acoustic niche, sound interference, biophony, geophony, anthrophony, soundscape ecology, property, cultural, intellectual, and natural property rights, ownership, stewardship, commodification, exchange, biodiversity, deep ecology, exploitation, regulation, management, wilderness, resources, set-asides, non-use—these are only some of the concepts that need to be explored and put into relation. In addition, of course, as the subject of this blog is music and sustainability, it’s important to locate the place of music (humanly organized sound) in soundscapes and sound-worlds.
    Among the questions and objections to a sound commons for all living beings are these: Must a commons be regarded as a resource to be used, propertized, regulated and, eventually, commodified? If “nature” is unknowable to us except through historically changing human constructions of it, is there a verifiably true basis for claiming a relationship between sound, communication, biodiversity, and a resilient planet? And why are all creatures, not just humans, entitled to their acoustic spaces, bats and snakes and locusts as well as you and I? In such a case, what would it mean to model management of the sound commons on nature’s economy? And why have any confidence in human ability to manage at all, when humans have gotten us into this predicament in the first place? I’ve been exploring many of these concepts and questions in this blog since 2008, and now it is time to run a bit of order through them and place them in relation to make the larger argument.
    In my previous entry I suggested that while the acoustic ecology movement’s efforts to eliminate noise pollution from the soundscape were laudable, the human-centeredness of this approach was too narrow. Those of us who exclaim “I can’t hear myself think!” are responding to sound pollution. But noise interference affects all creatures who communicate using sound, whether humans, whales, or spadefoot toads. Communication is basic to life, but like many other aspects of the environment it is under threat, chiefly from human activity. The helicopter noise impacts communication among caribou which in turn impacts the Innu way of life. A more dramatic example of interdependence among all living creatures would be difficult to find. Developing this argument will not be simple, but summary of the argument is clear enough: human beings should do what we can to manage, not damage, the soundscape, and do so to enable all creatures, not just humans, to communicate in their acoustic niches. If we are able to do so, the music of all living beings will flourish, and sound communication will contribute to sustaining a healthy, biodiverse planet.

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Human-Centered Sound Commons?

    In my previous blog entry I suggested that it is helpful to think of the acoustic environment as a sound commons. The usual example of a commons is land that members of an agricultural community use for grazing livestock. New England towns traditionally set aside a plot of land that was called the “town common”; these still exist in some towns, such as Amherst, Massachusetts, very close to my alma mater, Amherst College. Of course, the citizens of Amherst don’t graze their sheep and cattle on the town common anymore; it’s a park, and it’s used for public events. English peasants farmed on commons land until villages were transformed by enclosures (private property), a gradual process that took place mainly in the 1700s. In highland parts of Europe, and also in North America, livestock were let more or less loose to graze and feed on mountain land in season, sometimes with shepherds, sometimes without. Deep water ocean (for fishing) is another example of a commons. In a commons, then, members of a group share a particular resource, and the people who use it assert that they have rights, or entitlements, to do so.
   
     I raised the idea of a sound commons in the context of an acoustic disturbance, the sounds of helicopters flying, which confuse and upset caribou and cause the herd to change its migration pattern, which in turn impacts Innu people of northern Canada, whose lives traditionally are bound up with hunting caribou. A question immediately arises: is the acoustic environment a commons? And if so, which group am I talking about here in regard to a sound commons: the Innu or the caribou, or both? I think we can assume that the Innu have moral, if not legal, rights in this case, their right as a people to hunt caribou, which is compromised by the helicopter noises that take place in a sound commons shared by all human beings. Of course, the corporations who fly the helicopters and build the roads that make the noise assert opposing rights, to find and extract minerals from the land: that the benefit to humanity realized from mining the minerals outweighs the harm done to the Innu. But does it make sense to say that caribou have any rights in the matter? On what grounds could animals (including non-humans) have rights to a particular kind of acoustic environment or sound-world?
    The concept of commons has been around for a long time in Europe, going back at least to Roman law, which recognized as res communes those things that were incapable of being possessed by individuals and thus were commonly available to all. The usual examples Roman law gave for res communes were water and the atmosphere (the air mantle). The history of the commons has been one of enclosure, or propertization of the commons, whether public property or private. The enclosure of agricultural land in England (and Europe) is the usual example, but in modern history water and air resources have come to be regarded as public property, to be regulated by governing bodies; and some individuals even have claimed water and air rights as private property.
    The Internet has gotten people talking about commons once again: an information commons, with free Internet access (a digital information commons), is a right that is asserted by information managers (librarians) and readers, while there is pushback from authors and publishers. In the same way, digital file sharing (recordings, movies) has resulted in claims (particularly from youth culture) of a media commons, with pushback from artists and the recording industry. In an important book, Common As Air, Lewis Hyde has placed the debate in a larger context, arguing on behalf of a cultural commons of art and ideas, shared by all members of a society. Important ethical questions arise, such as how to mediate between free access to ideas, on one hand, and to protect the rights to their own ideas that individuals, particularly creative artists, assert, called intellectual property rights, on the other.
     One legal solution is the so-called "fair use" doctrine, in which small portions but not entire works are freely accessible. Anyone who has read portions of a copyrighted book on Google Books knows how this compromise works. Hyde supports the original American copyright law, which offers copyright protection for a once-renewable period of 26 years, after which time the property passes into the public domain where it may be used freely by all. These are very lively issues in legal circles today, particularly as global corporations (as “persons”) with enormous financial resources assert rights to movies, recordings, books, and so forth. But although there are many interesting questions involved, such as whether music, for example, ought even to be regarded as property—Thoreau would have thought it preposterous to do so—here, this debate serves mainly as background, at least for the time being.
    The concept of a sound commons is not original with me. Although the idea may be older than the late twentieth century, at that time environmentalists concerned with noise pollution asserted that people have the right to silence, to be free from assaults with noise; and at least two based this assertion on the principle of a sound commons. In 1993 Ursula Franklin gave a lecture at the first international conference on acoustic ecology, in which she said: “I want to come back to the definition of silence and introduce the notion of the commons because the soundscape essentially doesn’t belong to anyone in particular. . . . The notion of the commons is deeply embedded in our social mind as something that all share. . . . Because of the ephemeral nature of sound, silence was not considered part of the commons in the past. Today the technology to preserve and multiply sound and separate it from its source [i.e., what Murray Schafer termed schizophonia] has resulted in our sudden awareness that silence, too, is common good.” (1)
    In a similar vein, in 2000 the acoustic ecologist Henrik Karlsson wrote that “. . . a healthy, unspoiled acoustic environment [must] become something of a common right—a public domain—to which all citizens should have free access, no matter where they live. The acoustic environment will then become something which nobody can sabotage for others or privatise for personal gain. The focus of attention will then be on the individual citizen and his [sic] needs, not on product development or other economic interests, whether individual or transnational. An anthropocentric model of this kind, I am convinced, is the only feasible way of regarding, restoring and preserving the acoustic environment.” (2)
    Both Frankin and Karlsson conceive of a sound commons as “anthropocentric” (human-centered) and would have no argument with Innu asserting rights over their acoustic environment. They do not theorize the sound commons, as I am starting to do here; they simply propose it to be true on the grounds that the acoustic environment belongs to and is shared by all (humans). And although the acoustic ecology movement calls attention to the harm Navy sonar does to whales and dolphins, their main issue is noise pollution and its impact on human beings. The sounds of the natural world are “unspoiled” and must be respected, but their activism is aimed chiefly at the impact of noise pollution on people. In the case of the helicopters, the caribou, and the Innu, the acoustic ecology group would primarily be concerned, as the Living on Earth reporter was, with the Innu, not the caribou. It would be a more radical step to propose that there exists a sound commons for all creatures, but that is what I am suggesting here. In a future blog entry I will argue that the concept of commons leads us to conclude that all creatures, not just humans, have the right to communicate in their acoustic spaces (or niches). An anthropocentric sound commons is too narrow in scope.

Notes

(1) Ursula Franklin, "Silence and the Notion of the Commons," Soundscape, Vol. 1, no. 2 (2000), p. 16. Originally a lecture given in Banff, Canada, on Aug. 11, 1993, at the first international conference on acoustic ecology, "The Tuning of the World."
(2) Henrik Karlsson, "The Acoustic Environment as a Public Domain," Soundscape, Vol. 1, no. 2 (2000), p.13.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Sound Commons

Caribou
A new sound has come to the George River in Labrador, northern Canada, where the Innu traditionally relied on hunting caribou for food and clothing. It is the sound of helicopters flying through the air bringing in engineers and prospectors exploring the area for minerals. According to George Rich, an Innu elder, “the sound of the choppers really is a devastating sound because they [the caribou] don’t know where to look, all these choppers are going flying all over the place.” The result is a declining herd and a changed migration route, away from the traditional hunting grounds. “One of the mineral exploration companies is trying to build a road right in the heart of our territory. Right in the heart of [caribou] calving grounds,” Rich said.(1)   
    One thing leads to another as an intrusive new sound threatens what is left of a way of life. Besides their importance for diet and clothing, caribou “is our identity,” Rich said when interviewed recently for a radio broadcast. “It’s our culture, it’s our way of life. It’s also a part of the big spiritual awareness of what’s going on in the animal world. And without the caribou we don’t think the Innu will be able to survive.” The Innu are so isolated in their northern fastness that without as many caribou they are getting food shipped to them in the summer when the waters are open, or flown in to them in winter. “And then that’s created a lot of problems in diet and eating junk food. . . . A diabetes epidemic is one of the things that we are facing right now,” Rich concluded.
Traditional Innu camp
     There are 850 Innu living in a village 150 miles north of Goosebay, Labrador. They were not always villagers. Until about fifty years ago Innu were nomads, living in camps and following the migration routes of the caribou. The caribou herd, then estimated to have numbered as many as 900,000, has declined to less than 28,000. Of course, the sound of helicopters and road construction isn’t the only thing affecting the caribou. Global warming is doing its part. Caribou bear their calves in cool weather, and they forage for food beneath the powdery tundra snow. The warmer weather brings black flies, makes it more difficult to calve, and covers the ground with rain that freezes to ice and prevents browsing. And the Innu way of life underwent profound change when they were forced to settle in villages. But they still hunt caribou, though now subject to Canadian law which forbids them to hunt in certain places and at certain times. When they violate the law--as they sometimes do--they are subject to arrest.
    But for George Rich, it was the noise pollution from the choppers that most clearly--and most recently--affected the herd. We are not used to thinking in terms of sound-worlds when we measure the environmental effects of development. We usually limit our gaze to the visible landscape: forests cleared for timber use, farmland covered with factories and shopping centers. Sound? It seems so ephemeral. The warnings coming from acoustic ecologists about noise pollution in urban environments seem trivial by comparison. But are they? It isn’t just that sirens and jackhammers are deafening; they cause anxiety and confusion in humans as they do in caribou.
    Not unexpectedly, the Innu have music about the caribou, hunting songs that were passed from one generation to the next. What would a hunting song be about? The strength and prowess of the hunter? A boast or a threat to the prey? A triumphant enactment of the kill? None of the above. Instead, they establish relationships with the caribou. George Rich translated one of them: “You are so far away, I cannot reach you. I’ll catch up with you and call my friends.” This is how music evokes, and shapes, the “big spiritual awareness of what’s going on in the animal world,” as Rich put it. The music of the Innu is not only a critical part of the Innu sound-world, but it embodies Innu worldview.
    “I do hope the caribou come back soon,” the radio host said, somewhat lamely, in ending the interview with George Rich. Rich could not help but agree. They were hoping for resiliency. Beyond hope, though, we might try management: get those helicopters out of there, stop building the road, stop exploring for minerals, and understand that the effects of climate change will be felt not only by vulnerable peoples in remote areas but by every creature everywhere on the planet. Music, sound, nature, culture: again, it’s all connected. A sound-world is not simply an acoustic environment, a container for music and noise. Incidents such as this one with the caribou among the Innu show how a sound-world is a common-wealth, a commons shared by all. Managing the sound commons starts with understanding its nature and significance.

Note

(1). George Rich, interviewed by Steve Curwood. “Reindeer Populations in Decline,” Living On Earth, aired during the week of Dec. 7, 2012. Accessed at http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=12-P13-00049&segmentID=4

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Original-Ecology Music"

    I first encountered the idea of “original-ecology music” early in October, on my way back to northern New England from Knoxville. The occasion was the conference at Northeastern University in Boston, celebrating the publication (in English) of a book entitled Discourse in Music, edited by Zhang Boyu, director of the world music program in ethnomusicology at the Central Conservatory of Music, in Beijing.(1)  Professor Zhang had invited me to Beijing to lecture on music and sustainability in 2009, so I was looking forward to seeing him again, presenting a paper at the conference, and helping celebrate this milestone, as very little scholarship by Chinese musicologists and ethnomusicologists is currently available in English. Three of the book’s articles were concerned with “original-ecology music” in one way or another.(2) Was it possible that Chinese scholars were thinking about music and sustainability in terms of an ecological model?
    The answer is both no and yet, embedded in the Chinese language, yes. It turns out that “original-ecology music” is a linguistic back-formation from the written Chinese characters for the phrase “original style.” That is, according to the article by Tian Liantao, “The phrase ‘original style’ in Chinese includes the word ‘ecology’. . .” (Discourse, 118). Moreover, “folk song of original style” was “first proposed [around the year 2002] by show business rather than the music society [i.e., music scholars]” in order to distinguish the older folk song performances, felt to be more authentic in melody and performance style, from performances rendered by professional Chinese folksingers, which show modern and Western influences (Ibid., 119).
    The three Chinese musicologists who wrote about original-ecology music in the volume are specialists in the music of Chinese minorities. China, like Europe and North America, has a history of cultivated, semi-professional, and professional folk music. Coupled is the familiar idea that there is, or was, a more authentic, spontaneous, uncontaminated folk music expression. “In my understanding,” Professor Yu Renhao wrote, “‘original-ecology music’ generally refers to folk music formed in the natural economy, which hasn’t been affected too much by foreign culture. . . . Its ‘original flavor’ is reflected not only in the tunes, but reflected even more in the performance form and style. . .” (Ibid, 255). This untutored folk music is said to be characteristic of peasant and minority people in the “natural economy” of remote rural areas. There, it is thought that traditional agricultural life and music was and to a far lesser degree still is relatively unaffected by travel, trade, towns, cities, merchants, money, scholars, government bureaucracy, formal educational institutions, and foreign influence.
    Western ethnomusicologists of my generation were taught that Chinese scholars and bureaucrats, like those in the Soviet Union, collected, edited, transformed, and composed and promoted folksongs to reflect the kind of worker’s consciousness desired by the government after the Communist Revolution in 1949. But as Jonathan Stock pointed out in Worlds of Music, Chinese government officials had for centuries been collecting folk music and putting it to their use.(3) “In ancient China, the emperor sent out officials to gather song texts to help him judge whether the people were happy or not,” while  seventeenth century Chinese scholars collected folksongs but published only those which they felt had literary merit (Worlds, 372). Francis James Child, the Harvard professor who collected and published his famous 5-volume anthology of English and Scottish ballads in the nineteenth century, employed similar criteria. The concept “folk song” is a construction of the educated, literary class, sometimes put to use by various political groups.
    Professor Yu concluded that “In order to avoid misunderstandings, I suggest using the term ‘native folk music art’ in lieu of the so-called music of ‘original ecology’” (Ibid., 58). Still, it intrigues me that the Chinese characters written for “original style” contain the character for “ecology.” This linguistic formation suggests that style does not exist primarily as structure, or even as a combination of structure and performance. Rather, embedded directly within the etymology of the Chinese language is the idea that structure and performance style interact with the surrounding natural and cultural communities. That structure and performance style interact with the surrounding cultural community is constitutive of ethnomusicology, and one of the axioms that in the 1950s established it as a new discipline and separated it from its ancestor, comparative musicology. But that structure and performance style also interact with the surrounding natural community is an idea only now gaining momentum within the West.
    As I have mentioned in numerous blog entries earlier this year, Thoreau was the pioneer in this line of thought concerning nature and sound-worlds, in the mid-nineteenth century. John Cage, Murray Schafer, Steve Feld, Bernie Krause and Ted Levin are among those composers and scholars who have promoted this idea more recently. But a relation between music, sound, and the natural world is not only embedded in the Chinese characters that make up the Chinese language, it has precedent in ancient Chinese writing. Unaware of “original-ecology music” when preparing my presentation to the conference at Northeastern, I nevertheless had tried to find common ground between Thoraeu’s ideas of sound in the natural world and ancient Chinese thought. Here is what I said to them at the conference:
    “Thinking about our Chinese guests today, I was reminded of the ancient Chinese legend of the origins of music in the discovery of bamboo tubes that blew overtones in fifths. Looking a little further in ancient Chinese history, I came upon the Daoist text called Zhuangzi, named after the Chinese author who lived nearly 2,500 years ago. In English translation, the text reads as follows:
     “Zi-Qi said, ‘. . .  You may have heard the notes of Man, but have not heard those of Earth; you may have heard the notes of Earth, but have not heard those of Heaven.'
     Zi-You said, 'I venture to ask from you a description of all these.'
     The reply was, 'When the breath of [Nature] comes strongly, it is called Wind. Sometimes it does not come so; but when it does, then from a myriad openings there issues its excited noise; have you not heard it in a prolonged gale? Take the projecting bluff of a mountain forest - in the great trees, a hundred spans round, the [openings] are like the nostrils, or the mouth, or the ears; now square, now round like a cup or a mortar; here like a wet footprint, and there like a large puddle. (The sounds issuing from them are like) those of angry water, of the arrow’s whizz, of the stern command, of the inhaling of the breath, of the shout, of the gruff note, of the deep wail, of the sad and piping note. The first notes are slight, and those that follow deeper, but in harmony with them. Gentle winds produce a small response; violent winds a great one. When the fierce gusts have passed away, all the openings are empty (and still) - have you not seen this in the bending and quivering of the branches and leaves?'
    Zi-You said, 'The notes of Earth then are simply those which come from its myriad openings; and the notes of Man may just be compared to those which (are brought from the tubes of) bamboo- allow me to ask about the notes of Heaven.'
    Zi-Qi replied, 'Blowing the myriad differences, making them stop [proceed] of themselves, sealing their self-selecting - who is it that stirs it all up?’”
   
Notes

1. Discourse in Music: Collected Essays of the Musicology Department, Central Conservatory of Music, ed. Zhang Boyu. Beijing: Central Conservatory of Music Press, 2012.

2. Tian Liantau, "Original Style: 'Original-State' or 'Original-Ecology'?", pp. 118-124; He Yunfeng, "Some Doubts about 'Protoecological' Music," pp. 153-161; Yu Renhao, "Music of Original Ecology and Original Ecology of Music," pp. 255-258, in Discourse in Music (see n.1).

3. Jonathan Stock, "East Asia," in Worlds of Music, 5th ed., Jeff Todd Titon, gen. ed. Belmont, CA: Schirmer Cengage Learning, 2009.