Birdwatcher, musician and science journalist Ben Mirin has found an unusual way to combine his interests into something bizarrely wonderful. Sampling the distinct calls of 103 lemur species, Mirin is assembling a literal menagerie of beatbox music.
"I'm giving people music as a gateway to appreciate, reconnect with, and understand wildlife and the natural world," said Mirin to National Geographic.
With the help of primatologist Patricia Wright, who he met at the 2014 Wildlife Conservation Film Festival, Mirin wants to inspire a love of nature in urban dwellers by creating this animalistic music.
"When he told me he'd been using bird song in his music I thought, what a shame," said Wright, of Stony Brook University in New York, to National Geographic. "Lemurs make much more interesting sounds!"
Working with the Madagascar-native primates for over 30 years, Wright has collated an exhaustive digital library of their different calls, which all have different meanings to the lemurs. “Some click, some whistle, some howl, some bark, some combine various sounds,” said Wright. “They un-harmonize. It is so dissonant. For a long time, I thought it must be some kind of terrible bird making that sound.”
There are 103 known species and subspecies of lemur, more than half of which are classed as critically endangered or endangered due to loss of habitat by illegal logging and hunting.
Mirin hasn’t yet published his remixed lemur rhythms on his website or YouTube channel The Birds and the Beats, but he’s confident that listeners will reconnect with nature and learn more about the furry primate.
[H/T National Geographic]