As a composer, performer, field recordist, and instrument builder, I create works that investigate natural sites and ecosystems, and human relationships to them. Rooted in personal, boots-on-the-ground explorations, my projects intertwine field recordings of wildlife, environments, and weather with sounds played on amplified natural objects (stones, wood, water, sand, shells, feathers, bones, etc.), and often feature one-of-a-kind sculptural instruments. Fascinated by subtle intricacies of sounds, I use microphones and amplification to explore aural worlds within my sound sources, and then develop music, instruments, and performances that highlight these unique voices while addressing environmental issues. My recent works focus on climate change and extinction of species.
While at Headlands
I will develop sonic works exploring details of the park’s landscapes and ecosystems, the many ways humans have interfaced with these lands, and how the area’s wild systems respond to, and recover from, human presence. Investigating wild and built sites in the park, I’ll make field recordings and play natural materials and human-made structures as musical instruments. Using new audio technologies that enable access to sounds beyond human hearing range and over long time periods, I hope to expand ways of listening to and recording local plants, animals, and environmental processes.
Considering wide-ranging perspectives and timescales, I’ll examine questions such as: How did the Coast Miwok steward these lands? How might various plants and animals perceive this place? How have local ecosystems transformed over time and how are climate change and the extinction crisis impacting them now? What insights might the long view of geologic time reveal about Headlands?
Cheryl Leonard, excerpt from Unstable Material, 2021; outdoor performance at Marin Headlands January 2021, 9:47; sounds played in situ at Marin Headlands on ruins of military installations, field recordings of buoys, surf, and wind, and sounds played in the studio on stones and kelp flutes; video produced by Other Minds Presents; executive producer Blaine Todd, cinematographer & editor David Magnusson, additional cameras Mark Abramson and Liam Herb, sound Cheryl Leonard.
Cheryl Leonard, excerpt from Schism, 2021; an outdoor performance at Marin Headlands January 2021, 7:06; inductor recordings of a laptop computer, field recordings of insects, birds, bats, and squirrels, sounds played on sand, feathers, bones, rocks, kelp, glass, and metal bowls; video produced by Other Minds Presents; executive producer Blaine Todd, cinematographer & editor David Magnusson, additional cameras Mark Abramson and Liam Herb, sound Cheryl Leonard.
Cheryl Leonard, Ablation Zone, 2014; performed on Adélie penguin nesting stones, Adélie penguin vertebrae, and dried bullwhip kelp, with field recordings from Marr Ice Piedmont, Anvers Island, Antarctica and icebergs in Arthur Harbor, Antarctica; 5 min 13 sec.
Cheryl Leonard, Oceanus Meridiem, 2013; performed on sand, sea salt, feather, rocks, limpet shell, and driftwood, with and Phillip Greenlief on kelpinet and kelp flute, field recordings of brash ice near Anvers Island, Antarctica and Adélie penguins on Torgersen Island, Antarctica. 9 min 4 sec.