We do not listen: isn’t this one of our problems today? We are deafened by the noises of the city and overwhelmed by our hurried lives. We do not listen anymore; not to the rustling of leaves in the wind, not to the symphonies of morning birds, not to the splashing of waves against the sea rocks, not to the laughter of our own children. Yet every living and nonliving thing is constantly speaking, singing, laughing. What if we listened closer? What if listening to each other brought us closer?
Derek Shirley, a Canadian bio-acoustics engineer, came to Lebanon to listen to the Cedars. Just like all trees, these ancient, magnificent landmarks create internal vibrations; they have a pulse, an inner, unique rhythm. They are constantly generating music.
Shirley was summoned by the Lebanese Ministry of Environment, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Education, in the face of the growing pressures threatening the Lebanese Cedars, which are now listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s ‘Red List’. Being extremely valuable species both ecologically and culturally, a fusion of science and art gave birth to the ‘Save the music, save the Cedars’ (#SaveTheCedars) campaign, bringing people from various disciplines to work together.
So it is that Shirley visited the beautiful Barouk forests and after having captured the Cedars’ rhythms using a synthesizer, hooked to the outside of the tree and sensitive to the vibrations present inside all living things, he shared them with music producer Ribal Rayess, who composed musical tracks based on these rhythms.
‘Frequencies are translated into notes, for the young people of Lebanon to know that the Cedars need their help’ says Ribal, who through this project, was able fuse what he loves most, music, with an environmental cause he deeply believes in.
The first of these tracks, entitled ‘3000 years’, in reference to the age of the Cedars, is the focal point of the campaign and meant to incorporate an environmental concern within a musical, artistic context, which captures the attention of the public. The music is accompanied by the beautiful voice of Marlene Jabel, singing but a few, simple, touching verses in Arabic, also written by Ribal Rayess.
‘The entire track was composed on the musical note D, which is the frequency Shirley extracted,’ goes on Ribal, while in the background, the beautiful track beats with the pulse of the Cedars.
The track can be shared on social media, for the spreading of awareness about the importance of the Cedars and the threats they are facing due to climate change and human activity. It can also be downloaded for a small fee, which will be used by the campaign for conservation purposes.
“As it turns out, the Lebanese Cedars are especially rhythmic,” says Shirley.
Are the Cedars trying to tell us something? Are they calling out to us? Maybe we should start listening, their voices might change us. There is a language older than words indeed, and the Cedars of Lebanon’s mountains confirm this. Now it is up to us. Will we listen?