The strangest pals in showbiz : When Sir David met Bjork...

Express, 20 juillet 2013

SIR David Attenborough explains how he and singer Bjork formed an unlikely friendship while filming a new documentary.

They have been described as "the strangest pals in showbiz". Sir David Attenborough and Bjork are indeed an unlikely pair. But they are also great friends who have long been admirers of each other’s work.

Now the legendary natural history film-maker and singer have teamed up to melodious effect to make Te Nature Of Music.

This one-off Channel 4 documentary shows how Sir David and Bjork collaborated on Biophilia, Bjork’s groundbreaking multi-media musical project.

For this pioneering venture, which has been four years in the making, the highly original Icelandic artist employs cutting-edge technology in a fascinating attempt to incorporate the sounds of nature into her music.

"Just as we use music to express parts of us that would otherwise be hidden, so too can we use technology to make visual much of nature’s invisible world," explains Sir David. "In Biophilia, you will experience how the three come together - nature, music and technology."

Bjork has commissioned an astonishing array of custom-built instruments, including a pendulum harp, a sharpsichord and a gameleste, in order to recreate the sounds of nature in her performance.

"A lot of my inspiration about how music and sound functions is very much built upon a time when I was a kid," the 47-year-old musician says.

"I would walk 40 minutes to school and back, in any weather. My little way of dealing with it was to sing. That’s when I was walking on my own in nature. The lines blur so easily between music and nature because they’re almost the same thing for me."

Sir David and Bjork clearly hit it of while working together. The natural history presenter even has a nickname for Bjork. "I called her ’honey’," he says. "She is really quite enchanting."

Louise Hooper, director of The Nature Of Music and whose father John also directed Sir David, observes that it is charming to watch the two interacting.

"There is an unexpected chemistry and fun between these two unique characters.

They are both icons of their own separate worlds of music and nature, and both excited and curious to explore how these two worlds come together. Seeing Bjork and Sir David laughing and engaging with each other on screen is simply magical," she says.

"It was fascinating to have the chance to bring Sir David and Bjork together for the first time on television. They were both great fun to work with ; Bjork fizzing with ideas for the film and Sir David bringing his passion and knowledge.

"It was a wonderful opportunity for me, especially as I am following in my father, John Hooper’s, footsteps. During my childhood, he spent years travelling and filming Sir David in Papua New Guinea, the Amazon, Mali, and would return full of amazing stories."

Sir David, 87, who in the documentary examines the way in which animals from the lyrebird to the gibbon use music to send all sorts of different messages, says that he particularly values Bjork’s work.

"To be most rewarding, music actually does require work, does require concentration, does require thought. Which is why Bjork’s music is so challenging. So much of what she does is completely new and hasn’t been done before," he says.

The Nature Of Music demonstrates how man-made music has been influenced by music from the natural world. Louise says it makes complete sense that we draw our music from our surroundings.

"Humans are hard-wired to music, from hearing the heartbeat in the womb to the way our brain engages with rhythm. Most music is about 100 beats per minute as that is about the rate of our human heart," she says.

The documentary also underscores how music has the capacity to bring us together.

"Music unites one to other people. You sing together, you dance together, you drum together, at a pre-verbal, very elemental level," says neurologist Oliver Sacks, 80, who contributes on The Nature Of Music.

"Music has charms which nothing else has. It calls on so many brain functions and unifies them."

Sir David concludes that music is fundamental to our very being.

"It’s an essential part of what makes us human," he says. "It produces a very profound reaction in us all. It’s one of the strands that enables you to build relationships and live with yourself, too."

par James Rampton publié dans Express


  • David Attenborough