Judy Wu about Bird Sounds
Judy Wu learned to look by listening. The musician and producer from Taiwan has won multiple music awards for her bird sounds. Despite her tremendous success, her interest in nature was actually rather slow to develop and stemmed from the artist’s fascination with sounds. In the meantime, Judy is also interested in the details of flora and fauna, which she uses her visual sensory to take in.
Frogs and insects are the source of the beat in Judy Wu’s music, and birdsong provides the melody. The Taiwanese music producer has become popular for her music, which is inspired by nature.
But Judy had little interest in nature until about 20 years ago. At that time she was studying music and recording techniques at Brigham Young University in Utah, USA.
Near the end of her university time she visited a canyon and to this day she still recalls the intense images and the overall impression she took away with her, even though she didn’t really take in the fine details of the natural world around her. She knows that an eagle (or some kind of large bird of prey) flew overhead, but apart from the clacking of horse hooves she can’t remember a single sound. She hadn’t yet sharpened her senses to nature.
How the Taiwanese forrests helped opening the ears of Judy Wu.
Back in Taiwan her new boss gave her a project to work on: she was assigned the task of producing ‘native music’. So she would have to get to know the music of the native inhabitants and how they are inspired by natural sounds. Armed with a recording device and plenty of provisions, Judy set out on a long journey into the mountains to where the indigenous people live. On her trek through the forests of Taiwan she started to listen. At least that is how she describes it. She started to capture sounds, to hold onto them and compose melodic pieces from them.
Working with the music of these indigenous people cultivated her senses. There are still approximately 300,000 native inhabitants living in Taiwan and their society is shaped by a very distinct culture. They still live very traditionally in close harmony with nature, despite the fact that compulsory schooling is bringing them into much closer contact with ‘civilization’. Judy produces their music using modern technology. Her reasoning for this is that she sees it as a friendly way to win people over through cultural diversity.
„Music touches all people on an emotional level and allows us to believe in the power of diversity."
According to Judy, music reaches people on an emotional level and allows us to believe in the power of diversity. It’s this approach that she also uses with her ‘nature sounds’. Her aim is to encourage people to preserve cultural diversity as well as people’s multifaceted natural habitats. For her music projects she has immersed herself in flora and fauna and had biologists introduce her to the rich detailed beauty of the natural world. It was this that fueled her commitment to nature conservation.
To this day, Judy hears more than she sees. So when she is out and about with naturalists she is always the first to hear the wildlife.
That being said, she has now also come to be interested in every detail revealed by her binoculars. This is because the biologists have also taught her to use her eyes for identification. If things get a bit stressful with all the hard work as a music director at Wind Music in Taipei, she drives out to her regular “appointment with nature,” as she calls it. Here, the self-coined control freak completely winds down, she can let go and – much like the natives – be at one with the sights and sounds of nature.