Ocean Intelligence

Watkins, Simon




String Ensemble


vln 1, vln 2, vla, vc, cb


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About the work

This piece was inspired by my reading of a chapter from Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’. Ostensibly about astrophysics and astronomy, the book covers a huge range of subjects, including in this particular chapter, the way in which whales communicate across vast ocean distances by producing very low frequency sounds. However, in the modern era, shipping and other mechanical interference has shortened the distances across which these sounds can travel, reducing individual whales’ effective social range. Rather than attempting to depict this drama, Ocean Intelligence celebrates the sound world of whales, inspired by clips of humpback whale song realised in a haunting soloistic melody accompanied by a simple chorale and quietly underpinned by the deepest sounds producable by a string ensemble.


Written for Allcomers Midwinter Strings at Oxford 2013