Hildegard Westerkamp, Cricket Voice (1987)

Listen to the following composition: (I have attached)

Answer the questions below in short paragraph form (200-300 words per paragraph). Submit your answers as a PDF file. I will pay 1200 words, 5x around 240 words each.

Background Information

This is an example of soundscape composition. More information on this can be found here:

It also has its origins in the World Soundscape Project. More information on this can be found here:

These are the program notes that Hildegard Westerkamp provides for Cricket Voice:

Cricket Voice is a musical exploration of a cricket, whose song I recorded in the stillness of a Mexican desert region called the Zone of Silence. The quiet of the desert allowed for such acoustic clarity that this cricket’s night song – sung coincidently very near my microphone – became the ideal “sound object” for this tape composition. Slowed down, it sounds like the heartbeat of the desert, in it original speed it sings of the stars.

The quiet of the desert also encouraged soundmaking. The percussive sounds in Cricket Voice were created by ‘playing’ on desert plants: on the spikes of various cacti, on dried up roots and palm leaves, and by exploring the resonances in the ruins of an old water reservoir.


1. Why is this considered music?

2. How does this work exemplify the goals of the World Soundscape Project? Is it successful? (Read the program notes again)

3. The first section change occurs at about 1:55 (the change lasts about ten seconds). How does Westerkamp create this change?

4. What elements of counterpoint are used in the first 4 minutes? (describe all the sounds and their start times) How are the different lines differentiated? Bach used pitches – what does Westerkamp use?

5. Westerkamp states:

“I like walking the edge between the real sound and the processed sound. On the one hand, I want the listener to recognize the source, and thus want to establish a sense of place. But on the other hand, I am also fascinated with the processing of sound in the studio and making its source essentially unrecognizable. This allows me as a composer to explore the sound’s musical/acoustic potential in depth”.

Did you get a sense of place in this work? How did the notion of “the desert”, particularly the zone of silence, come through?

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