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Chattermarks: Field Recordings from Palmer Station

by Cheryl E. Leonard

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    Also comes with 6-page pdf booklet featuring photography by Jon Brack.
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Calving Marr 03:20


During the austral summer of 2008/09 I journeyed to Palmer Station, Antarctica on a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. I went to the Ice to create music using natural sounds and materials, but I began by simply listening. Before I could combine my voice with Antarctica’s I found I needed to first experience, explore, and try to understand this unique place: its ecosystems, weather, landscapes, and sounds. So each day I roamed amongst the melting ice and bustling wildlife, searching out and recording Palmer’s soundscapes. Some of my field recording “studies” I have since incorporated into musical compositions, but many of them I do not wish to add to or manipulate. They are fascinating and complete as they are. Collected here are my favorite undeveloped Antarctic field recordings. - Cheryl E. Leonard, December 2009

Palmer Station is located at 64°46' S, 64°03' W on the southwestern coast of Anvers Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula. It is the smallest of the three permanent U.S. research stations in Antarctica, with a summer population of approximately 40 people and a winter staff of about 20. The abundance of wildlife around Palmer makes it a superb location for studying birds, seals, and other parts of the marine ecosystem, and in 1990 the area was designated by the National Science Foundation as a long term ecological research site. Meteorology, upper atmosphere physics, glaciology, seismology, and geology have also been studied at and around Palmer. The current station was completed in 1970 and was named after Nathaniel B. Palmer, the first American to discover the Antarctic Peninsula.


released January 1, 2010

Recorded, edited, and produced by Cheryl E. Leonard.
Mastered by Myles Boisin at Headless Buddha Mastering Lab.
Photos by Jon Brack (cover, back, Adélie Family, seal close up, storm, station), Oona Stern (Cheryl), and Cheryl E. Leonard (iceberg, scruffy chick, calving, napping seals, brash).
Design and text by Cheryl E. Leonard.
Special thanks to the National Science Foundation, all the people I worked with at Palmer Station in January 2009, my Antarctic co-adventurer Oona Stern, Jon Brack, Lisa Blatt, Aquarian Audio, Larry Ochs, Henry Kaiser, Janet and William Leonard, and Cliff Neighbors.


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Cheryl E. Leonard San Francisco, California

Cheryl E. Leonard is a composer, performer and instrument builder whose works investigate sounds, structures, and objects from the natural world. Her projects often feature one-of-a-kind sculptural instruments and field recordings from remote locales. She uses microphones to explore the subtle intricacies of sounds and develops compositions that highlight these unique voices. ... more

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