Sonic Awareness Leading to Environmental Conservation: Developing an Interactive Performance Based on Field Recording and Improvisation Research

Thursday, Feb 23, 2023

9:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

How can human-made music interact with our natural surroundings in a way that brings awareness to the complete soundscape? How can our sonic awareness inform our environmental conservation? 

Over the last year, I have been developing a project for an hour-long, outdoor, site-specific, interactive performance that is also coordinated with an activity to directly give back to that local environment. The final performance will include through-composed music, improvised music, and opportunities for community members to participate with installed instruments and non-traditional music scores, all while focusing on and responding to the location’s soundscape. At each location, instruments such as chimes, aeolian harps, and any foraged/created instruments from the area will be installed in the performance space. Text scores and graphic scores may also be used to allow anyone from the community to be involved in the performance. The goal of the music is to increase awareness of one’s natural environment through its sonic landscape as well as be a catalyst for preserving, protecting, and nurturing one’s surroundings.

My Artist Talk will discuss my work up to this point and how my background research, field recordings, and improvisations will directly impact the final project. The first part of my research process has included visiting remote parts of Alaska and Ecuador for field recording and improvisation research in locations with minimal human impact. For the second phase of my project between fall 2022-spring 2023, I plan to travel to five distinct ecosystems in the contiguous United States with varied soundscapes. At these locations, I will workshop the compositional materials while recording in order to once again determine nature’s response to human music. The goal with this phase of the pre-compositional process is to create an inventory of sounds that could be interacted with in the final project depending on the ecosystem of each performance location. In this way, the music will be customized to fit the soundscape wherever it is being performed. Premiere performances of the final project are slated for spring 2024.

Alexis Lamb

Alexis C. Lamb (b. 1993) is a composer, percussionist, and educator whose work seeks to cultivate a connectedness to natural, historical, and societal relationships. As a composer, Lamb has collaborated with numerous ensembles and individuals, including Third Coast Percussion, Aizuri Quartet, Opera Omaha, Albany (NY) Symphony, Vera Quartet, Camilla Tassi, Contemporaneous, Emily Roller, Yale Philharmonia, and Evan Chapman. As a percussionist, Lamb has recently found joy in improvising in a variety of natural soundscapes, listening to how the natural world responds to her human-made music. Lamb was also a performer from 2013-2020 with Projeto Arcomusical. As an educator, Lamb’s work runs the gamut from private lessons to curriculum development, to leading clinics and teaching aural skills courses at University of Michigan.  

Lamb is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Composition at the University of Michigan and previously earned degrees from Yale School of Music and Northern Illinois University. Her works are self-published and available at