Alistair MacDonald

  • Year of composition: 2010
  • Duration: 11:06
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • ISWC: T9111739209


ISRC CAD501810047

  • 44,1 kHz, 24 bits

Wunderkammer is a sonic cabinet of curiosities evoking Alfred Russel Wallace’s 19th century travels in Malaysia and Indonesia, where he collected and catalogued every living creature he could find.

“When I reached England in the spring of 1862, I found myself surrounded by a room full of packing cases containing the collections that I had, from time to time, sent home for my private use. These comprised nearly three thousand birdskins of about one thousand species, at least twenty thousand beetles and butterflies of about seven thousand species, and some quadrupeds and land shells besides. A large proportion of these I had not seen for years, and in my then weakened state of health, the unpacking, sorting, and arranging of such a mass of specimens occupied a long time…

I find that my Eastern collections amounted to:

  • 310 specimens of Mammalia.
  • 100 specimens of Reptiles.
  • 8,050 specimens of Birds.
  • 7,500 specimens of Shells.
  • 13,100 specimens of Lepidoptera.
  • 83,200 specimens of Coleoptera.
  • 13,400 specimens of other Insects.
  • 125,660 specimens of natural history in all.”

(The Malay Peninsula, Alfred Russel Wallace, 1869)

One hundred and fifty years later, I visited some of the vibrant, sonorous jungle Wallace had explored and made my own collection of sounds. I imagine the insects, and the fish, “all well preserved in… hundreds of glass jars,” neatly arranged in ‘cabinets of curiosities.’


Wunderkammer was realized in 2010 in the studios of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) and premiered on November 13, 2010 at the MacRobert Building, University of Aberdeen (Scotland, UK) during the Sound Festival.


  • November 13, 2010, Sound Festival 2010, Electroacoustic Fair: Gig 5: invisiblEARts, MacRobert Building — University of Aberdeen – Lecture Theatre, Aberdeen (Scotland, UK)