Biomusic can be divided into two basic categories: music that is created solely by the animal (or in some cases plant) and music which is based upon animal noises but which is arranged by a human composer. Some forms of music use recorded sounds of nature as part of the music, for example, new-age music uses nature sounds as backgrounds for various musical soundscapes and ambient music sometimes uses nature sounds modified with reverbs and delay units to make spacey versions of the nature sounds as part of the ambience.
The incorporation of bird song in music is one of the most widely studied forms of biomusic. French composer Olivier Messiaen first began incorporating accurately transcribed bird songs into his music in 1952. His famous works Catalogue d’Oiseaux (1956–58) and Chronochromie (1960) incorporated songs from many different birds. Recorded whale song also frequently inspired 20th-century experimental music; one example is in George Crumb’s Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale), a composition for electric flute, electric cello and amplified piano.
The first symphony based on ecological themes with whole natural soundscapes is “The Great Animal Orchestra Symphony for Orchestra and Wild Soundscapes” composed by Bernie Krause and Oxford (Balliol College) former composer-in-residence, Richard Blackford. It was premiered and performed live by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in 2014.