Making Music With Nature: Composing Across Species With David Rothenberg - Atlas Obscura Experiences
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Making Music With Nature: Composing Across Species With David Rothenberg

Tue, Dec 7, 2021
4 sessions
$220 per person
Up to 36 people
See Dates
$220 per person
$220 per person
See Dates
What We’ll Do

In this four-part seminar, learn how to listen to, record, and compose with the natural environment.

Course Description

In this course led by musician and philosopher David Rothenberg, we’ll turn our ears to the unsung music makers found in the sea, sky, and right in our own neighborhoods. David is known for his work co-composing with more-than-human musicians including nightingales, humpback whales, seventeen-year-old cicadas, and more. Over the course of four weeks, he’ll not only divulge the stories behind his many cross-species collaborations, but he’ll also teach us to hone our ability to tune in to the music of nature for healing, art, and adventure. We’ll walk through how to listen to the natural environment, record sound, and use those recordings for creating musical pieces or soundscapes. Weather permitting, at least one class will take place out in the field.

Syllabus At A Glance

There are four total sessions included in this purchase, each lasting for 1.5 hours on four Tuesdays beginning December 7.

Session 1 (Tuesday, 12/7, 4-5:20 PM ET)| Birds: Why birds are the most obviously musical of creatures

Session 2 (Tuesday, 12/14, 4-5:20 PM ET)| Whales: We only learned these great beasts could sing a few decades ago. What did this discovery change?

- two weeks off -

Session 3 (Tuesday, 1/4, 4-5:20 PM ET)| Bugs: The oldest musicians we know, and the source of human love of rhythm and noise.

Session 4 (Tuesday, 1/11, 4-5:20 PM ET)| Students' Work: Sharing what we're working on

Course Materials

  • A small audio recorder like a Tascam DR-05 or Zoom H2N (Not required; a smart phone can also work.)
  • Students will be encouraged to download the trial version of Ableton Live, which can be used without charge for three months.

Between Sessions

Outside of class, students will be encouraged to go outside, record the sounds of their environment, and experiment with manipulating them to make their own music and soundscapes.

What To Expect

This is an interactive, small-group, seminar-style course that meets over Zoom. Students may be invited to participate in discussions, workshop their projects, and receive feedback from the course instructor.

In most cases, instructors will use Google Classroom to communicate with students outside of class. While students aren’t required to use Google Classroom, instructors will be using this platform to post resources, discussion questions, and assignments, when applicable.

Pricing Options

If you are unable to pay the ticket price for this course, a limited number of no-pay spots are available to increase accessibility for students, regardless of their economic situation. Please note that this option is first-come, first-served, and reserved for those who would not otherwise be able to take this course. To learn more about our approach to pricing, including no-pay options, please visit our FAQ page.


We provide closed captioning for all of our courses, as well as transcripts upon request. Please reach out to us at if you have any questions, requests, or access needs.

Atlas Obscura Online Courses

This online course is offered by Atlas Obscura. Founded in 2009, Atlas Obscura created the definitive, community-driven guide to the most incredible places on the planet and is now an award-winning travel company that shares the world’s hidden wonders in person and online.

Our online courses offer opportunities for participants to emerge with new skills, knowledge, connections, and perspectives through multi-session classes designed and taught by expert instructors. Courses can take one of two forms: Seminars are intimate, interactive classes—capped at nine to 25 students—exploring topics and crafts through discussion, workshops, assignments, and in-class activities. We also offer lecture series that can be attended live, or viewed via a recording that will be shared within 72 hours after each session airs. Class recordings for lecture series will be available with a temporary password for up to two weeks following the final session of the course.

To learn more about our current course offerings, please visit

For answers to commonly asked questions, check out our FAQ page here.

About Your Instructor
David Rothenberg
David Rothenberg

Musician and philosopher David Rothenberg wrote Why Birds Sing, Bug Music, Survival of the Beautiful, and many other books, which have been published in at least eleven languages. He has more than thirty recordings out, including One Dark Night I Left My Silent House which came out on ECM, and most recently In the Wake of Memories and They Say Humans Exist. He has performed or recorded with Pauline Oliveros, Peter Gabriel, Ray Phiri, Suzanne Vega, Scanner, Elliott Sharp, Iva Bittová, and the Karnataka College of Percussion. Nightingales in Berlin is his latest book, CD, and film. Rothenberg is a distinguished professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

What Else You Should Know

Once registered, you’ll receive a confirmation email from Eventbrite that will provide access to the class meeting. Please save the confirmation email as you’ll use it to access your course via Zoom on each scheduled date and time.

Group Size

There are 36 spots available on this experience.

Dates and Availability
  • Tue, Dec 7, 2021
    4:00 p.m.–5:20 p.m.
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