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The Nature Of Music

30/07/2013 | By | Reply More

Music –  When Björk Met Sir David Attenborough


When Björk met Sir David Attenborough is more optimistic, a film about the Icelandic volcano sprite, who now rhymes with lurk, and her Biophilia project.

When Björk Met Attenborough (The British public-service television broadcaster Channel 4, Saturday July, 27.) is more optimistic, a film about the Icelandic volcano sprite, who now rhymes with lurk, and her Biophilia project. More than a mere album, or a concert, it’s about using nature and technology to change the way we hear, make and think about music. It’s about the outer reaches of the solar system, mathematics, tectonic plates, lightning, evolution, going deep inside crystals, and deeper still inside Björk’s head.

She is the Icelandic “punk anarchist” with a love for eclectic music and bonkers fashion; he is Britain’s greatest living naturalist and an established national treasure.

Award-winning musician Björk and legendary broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough have admired each other’s work for years but this is the first time they have discussed their mutual love of music and the natural world on screen.

In this remarkable documentary, Björk explores our unique relationship with music and discovers how technology might transform the way we engage with it in the future.

At the heart of the film is Biophilia, Björk’s cutting-edge music project that explores where nature, music and technology meet. David Attenborough explains how music exists in the natural world and speaks about his own passion for music.

Author and professor of neurology and psychiatry Oliver Sacks explains the extraordinary and beneficial effects music has on our brains and explains why performing and engaging with music is something all of us should take more seriously.

Taking a break from her latest tour, Björk told The Independent news media that Sir David, who is 40 years her senior, was a constant inspiration. “I have learned so incredibly many things from him,” she said. “This man is a natural teacher. Apart from the things in nature he has introduced me to, I appreciate his enthusiasm and his hope has always been inspiring to me.”

And it seems the naturalist is a fan of the singer’s work too. In the Channel 4 documentary When Björk Met Attenborough: The Nature of Music the 87-year-old broadcaster told her: “I put on your music when I really want to think about something.” He added: “Your music is so challenging … because it does require thought…so much of what you do is completely new and hasn’t been done before.”

The documentary was inspired by Björk’s Biophilia album and multimedia project. Sir David narrated its accompanying iPad suite and has provided spoken introductions to performances. Björk said he did not need much persuading to get involved.

“I simply asked him if he would be interested in collaborating on Biophilia and he said ‘Yes!’” she said. Once you delve into the project a little deeper, it is easy to see why. The broadcaster explains how the structure of music can mirror that of nature – for example in its use of symmetry.

He described music as something “used by humanity to take us beyond territory, beyond success; into something that is transcendental.” He added: “It is an essential part of what makes us human. It has something very profound; it provides a profound reaction in us all.”

He enters more familiar territory when discussing music in nature. “The more beautiful the bird, the simpler its music,” he said. “The lyrebird song is probably the most complex bird song, ever… If you listen in the bush in southern Australia, you may think you’re surrounded by 10 different species. But they’re all actually made by that lyrebird singing 10 songs.”

He described current pop music as “hugely sexual” and even lets slip that if he were not one of the world’s most famous broadcasters, he would like to try his hand at academia. “I wish I was a mathematician,” he said. “I know a mathematician would talk about the beauty of an equation. And you can sense that when you hear a five-part fugue by Bach, which also has a mathematical beauty.”

As for Björk, her inspiration has always been closely linked to her surroundings. “I would walk 40 minutes to school and back in any weather, and my little way of dealing with that was just sort of sing … So for me the line blurs so easily between music and nature because that’s almost like the same thing for me,” she said.

Watch video below: – Courtesy Channel 4 – Episode 1 (47:34)


Learn more about Sir David Attenborough biography.

Sir David Frederick Attenborough  (born 8 May 1926) is an English broadcaster and naturalist.


Sir David Frederick Attenborough is an English broadcaster and naturalist.

His career as the face and voice of natural history programmes has endured for 60 years. He is best known for writing and presenting the nine Life series, in conjunction with the BBC Natural History Unit, which collectively form a comprehensive survey of all life on the planet. He is also a former senior manager at the BBC, having served as controller of BBC Two and director of programming for BBC Television in the 1960s and 1970s. He is the only person to have won a BAFTA in black and white, colour, HD and 3D.

Attenborough is widely considered a national treasure in Britain, although he himself does not like the term. In 2002 he was named among the 100 Greatest Britons following a UK-wide vote. He is a younger brother of director, producer and actor Richard Attenborough.

Attenborough was born in Isleworth, west London, but grew up in College House on the campus of the University College, Leicester, where his father, Frederick, was principal. He is the middle of three sons (his elder brother, Richard, became an actor and his younger brother, John, an executive at Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo). During World War II, through a British government initiative known as Kindertransport, his parents also fostered two Jewish refugee girls from Europe.

Attenborough spent his childhood collecting fossils, stones and other natural specimens. He received encouragement in this pursuit at age seven, when a young Jacquetta Hawkes admired his “museum.” A few years later, one of his adoptive sisters gave him a piece of amber filled with prehistoric creatures; some 50 years later, it would be the focus of his programme The Amber Time Machine.

Attenborough was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester and then won a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge, in 1945, where he studied geology and zoology and obtained a degree in natural sciences. In 1947 he was called up for national service in the Royal Navy and spent two years stationed in North Wales and the Firth of Forth.

In 1950 Attenborough married Jane Elizabeth Ebsworth Oriel; the marriage lasted until her death in 1997. The couple had two children, Robert and Susan.

Learn more about Björk biography.

Björk Guðmundsdóttir ( born 21 November 1965), known as Björk, is an Icelandic singer-songwriter. Her musical style is eclectic and she has achieved recognition in rock, jazz, electronic dance music, classical, and folk.


Björk Guðmundsdóttir known as Björk, is an Icelandic singer-songwriter.

Three of Björk’s 1990s singles charted in the UK Top 10 (“It’s Oh So Quiet” reached number 4, “Army of Me” number 10, and “Hyperballad” number 8). Her record label, One Little Indian, reported that by 2003 she had sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. She has won four BRIT Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, one MOJO Award, three UK Music Video Awards, and, in 2010, the Polar Music Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in recognition of her “deeply personal music and lyrics, her precise arrangements and her unique voice.”

Björk has also been nominated for 13 Grammy Awards (plus two for art direction on her album sleeves, done by others), one Academy Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. She won the Best Actress Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Dancer in the Dark. She was ranked thirty-sixth in VH1’s “The 100 Greatest Women in Rock and Roll,” eighth in MTV’s “22 Greatest Voices in Music,” and sixtieth in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Singers of All Time.”

Björk was born and raised in Reykjavík, Iceland. Her mother is Hildur Rúna Hauksdóttir, an activist who protested against Kárahnjúkar, a controversial hydro-electric development in Iceland, and her father is Guðmundur Gunnarsson, a union leader and electrician.

Her musical career began when she was eleven with her study of classical piano in elementary school. One of her instructors sent a recording of Björk singing Tina Charles’s song “I Love to Love” to RÚV, then the only radio station in Iceland. The recording was broadcast on radio nationally; after hearing it, a representative of the record label Fálkinn contacted Björk to offer a record contract. An album, Björk, was recorded and released in 1977.

In her teens, Björk was influenced by punk; at 14 she formed the all-girl punk band Spit and Snot, shortly followed by the jazz fusion group Exodus in 1979. In 1980 she graduated from music school. In 1981 she and bassist Jakob Magnússon formed another band called Jam-80, which later became Tappi Tíkarrass (which means “Cork the Bitch’s Ass” in Icelandic) and released an extended single, “Bítið Fast í Vítið,” in the same year. Their album, Miranda, was released in 1983.

Björk collaborated with Einar Örn Benediktsson and Einar Melax from Purrkur Pillnikk, and Guðlaugur Óttarsson, Sigtryggur Baldursson, and Birgir Mogensen from Þeyr. After writing songs and rehearsing for two weeks, the new band, KUKL (“sorcery” in Icelandic), developed a sound described as Gothic rock. Björk began to show indications of her trademark singing style, which was punctuated by howls and shrieks.

KUKL toured Iceland with anarchist UK punk band Crass and later visited the UK in a series of performances with Flux of Pink Indians. They produced two albums as a result of these collaborations: The Eye in 1984 and Holidays in Europe in 1986, both on Crass Records.

The band eventually dissolved, in part due to the closure of their label, Gramm. In mid-1986, several members of KUKL and the surrealist group Medusa got together to create the arts collective Smekkleysa (Bad Taste). They created a musical division, a band again called KUKL, but soon changed the name to The Sugarcubes.

When Björk Met Attenborough

You can find upcoming episodes about the subject by following Channel 4 from here.


Category: Iceland

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