Cornell scientists team up with wildlife DJ and hip-hop archivists on “BeastBox.”
Musicians have often drawn their inspiration from nature, but a new online game BeastBox is taking that connection one step farther.
Beastbox takes sound clips from real wild animals, transforms them into loops, and allows users to mix and match them with an endless variety of beats, breaks, and drops.
Along the way, players learn about the animals and their ecosystems.
The free game is the result of a three-way collaboration between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the Cornell Hip-Hop Collection, and Ben Mirin, a sound artist, and beatboxer whose career as a “wildlife DJ” inspired the project.
“BeastBox is a surprise mashup brought to you by scientists, musicians, designers, animators, and coders,” says Mya Thompson, leader of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Bird Academy project.
“It’s dedicated to the idea that we could all use a few minutes to appreciate our musical planet. When I first met Ben Mirin, I knew we could take his wildlife DJ concept to a new level—and BeastBox is what came out.”
By bringing animals from the same ecosystem together on the virtual stage, players can unlock “Beastmode” and control the moves of animal characters as they dance to Mirin’s music.
“I’ve used my passions for music and nature to explore the world, recording wildlife sounds and sampling them to create music that inspires conservation,” says Ben Mirin, collaborator and sound artist.
Mirin says BeastBox is another way to share that joy and knowledge with others.
He gives a quick overview of the music, visual feel, and gameplay of BeastBox in the video below.
“I hope people who play the game will be inspired to take their own creative approaches to nature, because the future of the planet depends on the ingenuity of people who care,” he says.
Each bonus track is created exclusively from sounds recorded in six featured ecosystems including the Madagascar rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Sonoran Desert.
BeastBox is a game for all ages and celebrates the musicality and biodiversity of our planet and encourages fans of music to become fans of wildlife.
BeastBox highlights two of Cornell’s world-renowned collections: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Macaulay Library and the Cornell Hip-Hop Collection. The Macaulay Library is the world’s premier scientific archive of natural history audio, video, and photographs. Many of the sounds players encounter in the game are archived in the library. Players who complete at least one ecosystem puzzle win the opportunity to download 20 wild animal sounds from the Macaulay Library collection.
Cornell’s Hip Hop Collection was founded in 2007 and is the most extensive archive on hip hop culture in the world. It is part of Cornell University Library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. BeastBox players are encouraged to browse the archive to better understand the cultural roots of beatboxing and hip-hop.
Play BeastBox to unleash the musical beast in you.
Learn more about BeastBox at https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/features/beastbox