Creative Time

Glossary of Useful Terms

Arborists are professionals who specialize in the cultivation, management, and care of trees.
The Anthropocene is our current geological era. It is defined as the epoch during which human activity has been the chief influence on climate and the environment. Though the term remains widely used, some critics argue that new terms are needed: calls for a more narrow focus on the environmental degradation generated by the specific phenomena of Western imperialism, capitalism, and slavery have led scholars and activists to alternative nomenclature like Plantationocene or Capitalocene.
Black Rock Forest is a 3,194 acre living laboratory for field-based research and education in Cornwall, NY. Officially established in 1929, the forest encompasses native terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems that are increasingly rare in the region. The Last Stand follows the story of a 300-year-old White Oak Tree in Black Rock Forest, and the majority of sounds in the composition were sourced from field recordings captured there.
Biophony refers to the sounds generated by organisms.
Deforestation is the removal of forests and trees. Frequently driven by logging, agriculture, mining, oil extraction, and infrastructure projects, deforestation has led to a global decrease of 80 million hectares of forest since 1990.
Eco-Acoustics is an emerging discipline studying the role of sounds in natural ecosystems, in particular how sound intervenes in and mediates the relationship between ecosystems and humans.
Ensemble is a term in music used to describe groups of musicians such as orchestras, bands, and quartets. The idea of the ensemble also lends itself well to descriptions of symbiotic relationships in nature and the forms of togetherness and mutuality that we can observe within ecosystems.
Experimental Opera is an umbrella term for works of art that incorporate drama and music but depart from the traditional settings and themes of opera. Experimental opera is not yet a defined artistic genre, but many creators in the world of opera are pushing to expand the reach, appeal, and accessibility of opera by engaging in experimental practices—for example, the use of non-conventional instrumentation or story telling methods. Critical moments in the history of experimental opera include Philip Glass’s Einstein on the Beach (1976), Tan Dun’s Nine Songs (1989), and The Industry’s Hopscotch (2015).
Growth rings are circular markings found inside a tree that keep record of a tree’s lifespan. Each ring shows the amount of wood produced during one growing season. Growth rings also tell us about climate conditions during the life of a tree.
Interspecies/Interspecific are terms used to refer to bonds between species.
Mother Trees are the oldest trees in a forest. Frequently, they are linked to other trees in the forest through underground networks of fungi called mycorrhizal networks (see below). Mother trees are able to nourish younger trees by sharing their excess stores of carbon, nitrogen, and other nutrients.
Musique concrète (concrete music) is a genre of music composition that uses recorded sounds as raw material. A precursor to electronic music, musique concrète was the first type of music to veer away from the use of instruments and vocals, instead sampling from recordings of everyday life, and frequently nature.
Mycelium is a part of a fungus consisting of thin branches (called hyphae) that grow into the soil. The mycelium enables the fungus to absorb nutrients from soil.
Mycorrhiza Networks is the symbiotic relationship between the mycelium of a fungus and the roots of a plant. These networks help transfer Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and other chemical resources, and also allow for plants to communicate through chemical signals and cues. Common types of fungi that exist in these networks include the fly agaric and laccaria bicolor.
White Oak is native to the northeastern United States and is one of the most common and most important oak species in the region.
Old-Growth Forest—also termed primary forest, virgin forest, primeval forest, late seral forest, or forest primeval—is a forest that has aged without any significant damage or disturbance, which has allowed it to have unique and older ecology.
Polyphony is a musical arrangement consisting of two or more lines of independent melody that are played simultaneously, such as in The Last Stand. It is also offered by scholar Anna Tsing as a metaphor for multispecies communities in which individual species are operating autonomously and simultaneously in an assemblage.
Reclaimed wood is processed lumber recycled from an original function for another use. Most reclaimed wood comes from old barns, factories, and warehouses.
Rhizomes are horizontal underground plant stems from which roots grow. In philosophy, the terms rhizome and rhizomatic refer to non-hierarchical methods of learning and being together.
Soundscape Ecology is the study of the sonic relationships between humans, other organisms, and their environments.
Subsonic refers to an audio frequency that is slowed down below the speed of sound. Subsonic sounds are experienced more as vibrations and are used in the composition of The Last Stand.
Subpacs are audio bass systems that enable people to feel sonic elements through vibrations. They are commonly used access technology for Deaf and hard of hearing people.
Stand is a biological term used to refer to a contiguous congregation of trees in a local area that are generally uniform in size, shape, and class.
Symbiosis refers to long term, mutually strengthening relationships between species. For example, the relationships between trees and mycelium or between mother trees and younger trees could both be described as symbiotic.
Tree Canopy is the upper layer of a forest, or the part of a tree consisting of leaves and outer branches. In forest ecology, the canopy forms its own habitat zone: it is estimated that 50% of land species live in tree canopies alone.
Time-based media refers to works of art in which watching or listening to the work unfold overtime is considered a central part of the experience. Time-based media emphasizes slowness and duration.
Urban Forests are congregations of trees in city environments, including parks, landscaped boulevards, greenways, and gardens. With roughly 140 million acres of America’s forests located in urban areas, urban forests are an essential part of our contemporary ecology. They differ from naturally occuring or protected forests outside of cities as they are often planned and carefully maintained by humans.
Xylem and Phloem are plant tissues through which plants absorb food and nutrients. The xylem distributes water and minerals upward through the plant and the phloem carries these materials downward.