When Gaia Falls

Environmental Music, Poetry & Soundscapes

Bradford Blackburn composer

Release Date: August 25, 2023
Catalog #: BR8979
Format: Digital
21st Century

WHEN GAIA FALLS from composer Bradford Blackburn is an environmental call for action in the face of climate change manifested through musical, literary, and sonic eclecticism as a medium of universality. Its central message? There is no better time to save the future than the present.

From the body of electroacoustic, choral, and chamber works emerge a trio of narrative sub texts. The first, to simplify our needs and desires, the second, to make ecologically sustainable choices, and the third, to pursue positive change as a society. Bradford calls upon several artists to drive his message home in this release, spanning a variety of genres and moods that make a compelling case.


Hear the full album on YouTube

Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Act One: In Gaia’s Twilight Bradford Blackburn Ben Rosenblum Trio | Ben Rosenblum, piano; Marty Jaffe, double bass; Ben Zweig, drum set 6:51
02 Act One: The Last of the Survivors Bradford Blackburn Bob González, speaker 3:13
03 Act One: Lament for the Earth Bradford Blackburn Cody Austin, tenor solo; Ethan Lucas, tenor 1 and tenor 2; Matthew Jay, baritone and bass 2:23
04 Act One: The Woodlands Are Quieter Bradford Blackburn Bob González, speaker 2:38
05 Act One: Canticum Avium Bradford Blackburn 3:23
06 Act One: Hymn to the Earth Bradford Blackburn Amanda Cohen, soprano; Beck Barnes, alto; The University of Tampa MIX Lab Ensemble | Ethan Fair, Ben Tappouni, John Michael Kyker, Daniel Arteaga - electric guitar; Michayla Britton, keyboard; Sebastian Salvatore Italiano, electric bass; David Dickinson, percussion 6:27
07 Act One: Call and Response Bradford Blackburn 4:02
08 Act One: Outraged in Silence Bradford Blackburn Bob González, speaker; Bradford Blackburn, piano 2:45
09 Act Two: Broken Records Bradford Blackburn Ben Rosenblum Trio | Ben Rosenblum, piano; Marty Jaffe, double bass; Eric Kennedy, drum set 4:46
10 Act Two: No Bugs Bradford Blackburn Bob González, speaker 1:54
11 Act Two: Vox Insecta Bradford Blackburn 5:56
12 Act Two: Eleventh Hour Bradford Blackburn Ethan Fair, electric guitar (with distortion); Ben Tappouni, electric guitar (clean; distorted lead solo); Sebastian Salvatore Italiano, electric bass; David Dickinson, drum set 6:25
13 Act Two: Before the Fall Bradford Blackburn Bob González, speaker 3:10
14 Act Two: Trance-Figuration Bradford Blackburn Bradford Blackburn, electroacoustic bassoon 8:06
15 Act Two: Message from the Future Bradford Blackburn Cody Austin, tenor solo; Amanda Cohen, soprano; Beck Barnes, alto; Ethan Lucas, tenor; Matthew Jay, bass; Ethan Fair, electric guitar; Bradford Blackburn, electric bass; David Dickinson, drum set 6:13

Track 1-4, 6, 8-10, 12-13, 15
Instrumental and vocal parts recorded January 2022-March 2023 at The University of Tampa, Ferman Center for the Arts, Recording Studio in Tampa FL

Track 2
Electroacoustic music produced in Spring 1995 at the State University of New York at Fredonia, Electronic Music Studio in Fredonia NY

Tracks 4, 7, 10, 13
Field recordings made August 2023 at Myakka River State Park in Sarasota FL

Track 5
Field recording made June 2021 Riverside Heights in Tampa FL
Computer music produced April-May 2022 at The University of Tampa in Tampa FL

Track 11
Field recording made September 2003 at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana, IL
Electroacoustic music produced February 2004 at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Experimental Music Studios in Urbana IL

Track 14
Electroacoustic music produced in 2005 at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Experimental Music Studios in Urbana IL

Recording Engineer & Producer Bradford Blackburn

Mastering Engineer Melanie Montgomery

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Jeff Leroy

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming, Morgan Hauber
Publicity Aidan Curran

Artist Information

Bradford Blackburn


Bradford Blackburn (b. 1974) is a composer, music technologist, and music theorist whose work explores electroacoustic and interactive music, new musical interfaces, extended just intonation, immersive audio, environmental sound, live video processing, sonification of movement and gesture, contemporary music performance, improvisation, and the construction of experimental musical instruments.

Bob González


Bob González’s research includes spoken word performance, devised/collaborative theater, and creativity theories and practices. His dissertation, The Drama of Collaborative Creativity: A Rhetorical Analysis of Hollywood Film Making-of Documentaries, studies the communication processes involved in collaborative creativity.

González has directed mainstage and small stage theatrical productions at The University of Tampa, the University of South Florida and for local theater groups such as Hat Trick Theatre and The Gorilla Theatre. These productions include Lanford Wilson’s Book of Days, William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Philip Massinger’s A New Way to Pay Old Debts, Václav Havel’s The Increased Difficulty of Concentration, Aristophanes’s Lysistrate and Gerlind Reinshagen’s The Life and Death of Marilyn Monroe. González has also adapted and directed stage adaptations of Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “The Last Demon” and “Gimpel the Fool,” directed collaboratively devised theater pieces such as Hott Mess and Stuff & Nonsense, as well as performed in and staged poetry collages Measured Passion and Reverberance: A Poetic Rhapsody.

He is an avid rhapsode, or performer of classic poetry, and is the founder of Rhapsodize, an online international project to encourage, instruct, and facilitate the performance of classic English language poetry. He is also an active volunteer member of LibriVox, an online international community of public domain audiobook producers, where he has contributed to over 75 audiobooks and has hosted over seven community podcasts. González is a member of the National Communication Association, the Florida Communication Association, the Voice and Speech Trainers Association, the Southeastern Theatre Conference, and the Florida Theatre Conference.

Ben Rosenblum


Award-winning New York City jazz pianist and accordionist Ben Rosenblum has been described as “mature beyond his years,” (Sea of Tranquility), an “impressive talent” (All About Jazz), who “caresses [the music] with the reverence it merits” (Downbeat Magazine). Since the release of his debut trio album, Instead (4 stars, Downbeat), Rosenblum has toured extensively with his trio and sextet throughout the United States, including multiple trips to the Northeast, Midwest, South and West Coast, as well as internationally in Canada, Europe, and Japan. He was a featured soloist at Carnegie Hall’s Stern-Perelman Auditorium — with Reona Ito’s New York Harmonic Band — and has appeared at prestigious venues throughout the world, including at the Appel Room at Lincoln Center, Kuumbwa Jazz Center, Ravinia, Himawari-No-Sato Concert Hall in Yokohama, Bird’s Eye in Basel, and the Library of Congress. Rosenblum’s second trio album in 2018, River City, was called “richly romantic” and “well-realized” by JAZZIZ Magazine, which featured the title track as part of their Best of Fall 2018 CD. Most recently, Rosenblum released his third album, Kites and Strings, which is the first to feature him on both piano and accordion alongside his new sextet, the Nebula Project. In 2020, the Nebula Project was voted runner-up for Best New Artist in JazzTimes‘ Readers’ Poll. Rosenblum has been privileged to share the stage with many highly acclaimed jazz musicians, including extensive work with Curtis Lundy, Winard Harper, Deborah Davis and Chris Washburne, as well as appearances with Bobby Watson, Sean Jones, TS Monk, Warren Wolf, Eliot Zigmund, and many others. Rosenblum’s musical interests also extend beyond jazz to include work in numerous world music scenes, including musical styles from Brazil, Peru, Croatia, Bulgaria, India, Ireland, Jewish traditions and more.


Here in the 21st Century, well into the Anthropocene, there is probably no greater existential crisis than the rapid degradation of the Earth’s ecosystems and biodiversity due to human causes. For millennia, living as small bands of hunter gatherers, our hominid species had a relatively minor impact across the Earth. Our ancestors lived precariously, but in an ecological balance with the natural world. We learned to thrive through agriculture, industry, and technology, but the consequences of our dominion over nature grew devastating. The ecosystems on which complex lifeforms on Earth depend, including us, are on the verge of collapse. Gaia, the Earth’s web of life, is rapidly unraveling.

Despite this stark context that is the reality of our time, the musical, poetic, and sonic journeys of When Gaia Falls are not intended to invoke despair, but to instead provide a hopeful exhortation for positive social change. There is no better time to save the future than the present…this is the central message of the work. It is a call for action manifested through musical, literary, and sonic eclecticism, as a medium of universality.

Within this cycle of music, poetry, and sound, there is a trio of narrative subtexts that emerge. Firstly, by simplifying our needs and desires, we may return to a time when we lived in harmony with Gaia. Secondly, when we persist with life choices that are not ecologically sustainable, we are accomplices in Gaia’s undoing. Thirdly, without making changes to become ecologically sustainable, organic life and diverse ecosystems on Earth will decline and perish. The first two subtexts are articulated by the speaker (performed here by Bob González, Associate Professor Emeritus of Theatre at The University of Tampa), who conveys our human experience with nature. The sung vocal parts in the work portray the third subtext about an apocalyptic future. They are composed and performed from the perspective of future A.I. protagonists existing in a post-apocalyptic world, who figuratively reach back across time to implore human beings in the Anthropocene to save the natural world while they still can. The operatic tenor soloist — performed here by guest artist Cody Austin — represents a noble version of humanity, who at first laments the destruction of Gaia, but then heroically rises to save it through conservation.

Most of the field recordings in the work were recorded at Myakka River State Park in Sarasota FL in August 2022. The park, with its lake, marshes, meadows, and woodlands, stands out as a jewel for wildlife soundscapes on Florida’s Gulf Coast. A particular highlight of these sessions is featured in the track Call and Response, where a poetic interspecies dialogue between a raven and an army of frogs took place. The recordings were made with an Ambisonic microphone and mixed down to a binaural stereo format to preserve a sense of immersion in a wild landscape for the listener, when listening on headphones. Similarly, the music on the album was mixed in binaural stereo to simulate the experience of being within a musical landscape, when listening on headphones, or a greater sense of clarity when listening on speakers.

A recurring musical structure throughout the cycle of pieces is a prolonged build-up of volume and dissonance, followed by a precipitous drop, and or a period of entropic decay. This structure is meant to be symbolic of humanity’s growing environmental impact, and the dramatic collapse and or decline of ecosystems that will result if humanity is unable to choose a sustainable path.

In Gaia’s Twilight and Broken Records were both written for the Ben Rosenblum Trio and were recorded during their Southeast United States tours in 2022, while they were visiting The University of Tampa. In Gaia’s Twilight is a contemplative nocturne for an analog jazz trio, while Broken Records is an up-tempo metaphor for the normalization of apathy in response to ever more shocking statistics about environmental degradation in the news, in an ever more digital world.

Spread throughout the album is a cycle of ecopoems by Bradford Blackburn. The Last of the Survivors is a meditation on the plight of whales, and by extension, the aquatic life on Earth that humanity does not yet fully understand or appreciate. The Woodlands Are Quieter reflects how our developing world sacrifices wildlife habitat for ceaseless growth and convenience. Outraged in Silence is a piece, expressed through angst, that questions complacency and hesitation, presenting them as obstacles that must be overcome for positive change to occur. No Bugs is an ironic litany, portraying the paradox of ridding the world of insects for being a nuisance, while considering their necessity and value. Before the Fall is ambiguously narrated from the perspective of either a human at the end of civilization, or a future A.I. recalling an organic world it never knew, except through the data of its memory.

Several electroacoustic pieces appear on the album as abstractions of the narrative ideas presented in the ecopoetry. Canticum Avium (Song of the Wilderness) features a field recording of a mockingbird, coupled with an 8-channel additive synthesis piece created with Max, that responds to it antiphonally. Vox Insecta begins with a field recording of cicadas, and then morphs into an electroacoustic, densely microtonal composition reflecting the polyphony of insect swarms. Trance-Figuration is an electroacoustic work performed on bassoon and processed through a vocoder. The piece includes march-like sections reflecting the hypnotic momentum of development that is propelling us toward environmental catastrophe and chaos, leaving behind a transfigured world. Additionally, the progressive rock piece Eleventh Hour is a musical metaphor for the urgency of acting now, made palpable through its tolling conclusion.

The choral pieces on the album all utilize the same exhortative texts, but with very different musical settings. The texts are sung in Latin as a metaphor for the universality of the messages they convey. Lament for the Earth is a funeral dirge, written for male vocal quartet and tenor soloist, accompanied by a drone-like electronic accompaniment symbolizing entropy. Hymn to the Earth is a gamelan inspired composition for a contemporary music, improvisation ensemble with soprano and alto voice soloists. Message from the Future is the dramatic conclusion of the cycle and portrays a call from a future A.I. to present day humanity, to remind us of the future we are heading toward, before we create it.

Funding for this album was provided by a Research Innovation and Scholarly Excellence Award from The University of Tampa.

— Bradford Blackburn

The Last of the Survivors
By Bradford Blackburn

Is there a place in our conscience for whales?
Do we know what they feel?
Do we know what they think?
Do we know what they remember?

Far below the surface of our modern amnesia,
floating through a shadow in the shadow’s light,
the beasts and leviathans of ancient past,
make lonely journeys through the chasm,
of oblivion.

Once, a city of sentients,
now a scattered tribe of nomads,
exiled and hunted for the greed we celebrate,
they persist at the edges of extinction,
singing their long songs,
wails of sorrow.

A lament for Anthropocene seas,
crowded but empty, relentlessly noisy,
choking in the perpetuity of ephemeral plastic,
ringing with the roar of ships and war, vehicles of consumption,
becoming hollow graveyards, where life once flourished.

Bleached, poisoned, and stripped,
Gaia’s seas reverberate with the mournful soliloquies,
of vagabond whales, scraped to the bone,
the last of the survivors.

The Woodlands Are Quieter
By Bradford Blackburn

The woodlands are quieter these days.
As spring approaches we are reminded of winter’s silence,
and wonder, where is the vibrant orchestra,
of colors that echoed, in the branches,
above our heads.

Those branches are gone now.
Chopped, pulped, and burned, glued into packaging,
cleared away for highways, hamburgers, and houses.
the springtime colors we heard are silent,
where a din of gray concrete emerges.

The meadows are louder these days.
But not with the buzzing of bees,
the arid scraping of cicadas,
or the virtuosity of mockingbirds,
but with the sound of development,
for the sake of development.

Beyond the waning meadow,
A subwoofer pulses out four on the floor, in rush hour traffic,
through increasingly boundless subdivisions of OSB, PVC,
and forever chemicals.

The sound of society grows deafening, gentrifying out nature,
Gaia’s original residents fade away,
or stay behind to fend for scraps and perches,
in the anthropic suburban jungle.

The wetlands are drier these days.
Starved of nourishment by dams upstream,
Buried beneath the foundations of waterfront property,
or long ago paved over for shopping malls and parking lots.

Here was once a nesting ground,
an oasis for migrators, a nursery for fish,
a pond for amphibians, a refuge for panthers,
and the place where songs were heard but not seen.

Outraged in Silence
By Bradford Blackburn

When will we know that our world has been broken?
Will it be today?
Will it be tomorrow?
Will it be too late?
What would we do if we knew how to save it?
Would we save it for ourselves?
Would we save it for our children?
Would we save it for our fate?

Can we each make a difference by stopping our habits?
Do the habits we choose make a difference that matters?
Is there time to undo all the damage we’ve done?
Can we stop thinking we can’t, before the world becomes tattered?

How much must be lost before its absence is noticed?
How much must be sullied for outrage to be expressed?
Will noticing our loss make things better for the moment,
Will being outraged in silence take care of the rest?

No Bugs
By Bradford Blackburn

No bugs to feed on our refuse,
No bugs to be food for the birds,
No bugs to feed on the decaying wood,
No bugs anywhere to be heard.

No bugs to replenish the soil,
No bugs to light up the night sky,
No bugs to pollinate our gardens and food,
No bugs to eat us when we die.

No bugs to support the food chain,
No bugs for spiders to catch,
No bugs to spin silk for fine garments and cloth,
No bugs for collectors to fetch.

No bugs to inspire fine art and design,
No bugs to make colors and dyes,
No bugs to clean up museum skeletons,
No bugs to admire with our eyes.

No bugs to make honey and beeswax,
No bugs for feeding the forest,
No bugs for feeding the fish and the frogs,
No bugs for a crepuscular chorus,

No bugs for genetic research,
No bugs to teach us adaptation,
No bugs to stop the invasives we spread,
No bugs to kindle creation.

Before the Fall
By Bradford Blackburn

Remember when we walked in the grass of the savannah,
Carrying the tools we made from the rock.

Remember when we idled around campfires by night,
Telling the stories of lives lived in balance.

Remember when we cleared away forests for factories,
Cutting down ancient groves that had stood for centuries.

Remember when we razed the rainforests to the ground,
Silencing symphonic biomes for the monotones of oil palms.

Remember when we burned down the Amazon frontier,
Scarring the Earth’s lungs, for our insatiable appetite.

Remember when we flooded the rivers with waste,
Starving the gentle manatees under a cloud of algae.

Remember when we eviscerated the seas without mercy,
Slaughtering sharks and cetaceans, trawling the reefs bare.

Remember when we blackened the oceans with oil,
Poisoning the underwater world that we had barely explored.

Remember when we flew across continents,
Spreading our frequent flyer wings with plumes of carbon.

Remember when we descended on the terrain like locusts,
Devouring landscapes, minerals, and mountains in our path.

Remember when we melted the icecaps and glaciers,
Submerging island nations and displacing millions.

Remember when war and famine brought refugees to our borders,
Dividing humankind into prosperity and despair.

Remember when we built walls to insulate ourselves from the truth,
Forgetting the consequences of our actions and inaction.

Deep in our memory,
We were once sentient flesh,
Seeing a river of stars with our eyes,
Drinking clean water with our hands and mouths,
Listening to the breath of the wilderness with our ears,
Pondering the beauty of the living world,
Counting our time, before the fall.


In Gaia’s Twilight

Bradford Blackburn

Lament for the Earth

Bradford Blackburn

Hymn to the Earth

Bradford Blackburn

Broken Records

Bradford Blackburn

Eleventh Hour

Bradford Blackburn

Message from the Future

Bradford Blackburn