The Niche Hypothesis (2019)

for double wind orchestra (7′)



The Niche Hypothesis is inspired by the interaction of animal calls in ecosystems and how they adapt to change. In 1987, naturalist Bernie L. Krause published his influential article The Niche Hypothesis: How Animals Taught Us to Dance and Sing. Krause proposed that in ecosystems animals have their “own sonic niche (channel, or space) in the frequency spectrum and/or time slot occupied by no other at that particular moment” (p. 3). He suggests that, when birds relocate to new areas due to habitat destruction, their sonic niche may be occupied by another creature. This would create an obstacle to communication (p.4). By the same logic, if human-made sound is introduced into a finely balanced ecosystem, that system will be thrown into flux. These ideas informed the music in The Niche Hypothesis. Placing different musical ideas in different frequency bands is nothing new. Krause himself notes that “experienced composers know that in order to achieve an unimpeded resonance the sound of each instrument must have its own unique voice and place in the spectrum of events being orchestrated (p. 2)” However, I take this practice one step further. I treat ideas as sensitive being who are thrown into flux by changes in the sonic environment around them. The material is restless, not content to sit in one frequency band, intent to move and disrupt the established order.

Score sample

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