One of our students, Logan Patnaude, is taking a class at Green Mountain College this Fall titled, “Nature in Music,” which is “a journey into the history and prominence of musical instruments and compositions that have their roots in the study and influence of the natural world.” For one of the homework assignments, Logan had to write an essay that explored the sounds and feelings evoked by nature. This is his essay.
There is something about a summer’s full moon that brings out all the life that the world has to offer. Sitting out in the open field in the valley of my home, surrounded by a swamp, which is surrounded by large rolling hills and mountain peaks disguised by the fog of the evening, I sit cross-legged in place, bearing witness to what seems like the symphony of my environment. The volume of the frogs and the crickets rise with the rising of the moon over the mountaintop ahead of me. As I listen to the innocent sounds of the life in the swamp, I picture the moon as the composer, standing high on the podium, conducting the symphony of “Rupert Valley”.
The frogs and the crickets come first, providing the strong foundation for the song that is slowly building. A breeze starts blowing, gently. Leaves brushing together create sounds of maracas, tree trunks moan and groan, like bass singers of an accapella group. The swamp players pick up volume, picking up speed with the wind-shook maracas.
Coyotes, hungry, barking and howling to the moon from fields farther down the valley, take over as the lead. The piece becomes the story of a struggle, of a need, the frenzy of loud, fast-paced sounds reflecting the lyrical begging of the wild hounds in the distance. You can hear in their yapping how they run around viciously, looking for anything that can help them sustain their appetite.
The wind is blowing faster, the buildup feeling near the high peak. I can feel the sounds being thrown into my body from the force of the wind. The white, haunting glow of the composer above me spreads sporadic goosebumps on my skin; the only words my mind can mutter, “What a masterpiece I am in.”
Suddenly, the wind begins to slow its pace, bringing the maracas down with it. The volume from the swamp slowly begins to decline until it becomes lightly atmospheric in effect. Successful coyotes quiet down in far fields, while the owl begins his soul-clenching solo, concluding what seems like an everlasting dream.