City Zoo / Zoo City

Dan Lander

  • Year of composition: 1992
  • Duration: 12:22
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Publisher(s): Ymx média
  • Commission: CKUT FM, with support from the CCA
  • ISWC: T0708743912


ISRC CAD509511620

  • 44,1 kHz, 16 bits

This polyphony of contradictions contemplates the zoo as an urban environment which houses not only the various species of ‘wildlife’ but also the technological apparatus necessary for the maintenance and presentation of such a construct. ‘Wild’ sounds coexist with mechanical sounds, the human voice ‘sings’ in consort with the animals, parrots chatter to the beat of a promotional video tape soundtrack. Through this convergence of aural information I wish to evoke in the listener a sense of wonderment at the beauty of the ‘lawless’ region, while alluding to a human condition which demands order, confinement and control.


This work relies much more on an ambient sound environment than the previous works, whose meanings are constructed primarily through human speech. The work begins with the statement “at the zoo, once again, technology substitutes for nature.” As the work proceeds we hear a father speaking with his son about the eye of an eagle, instructions to “leave the snake alone,” and a conversation between a small, irate child and his parents in which they suggest visiting the on-site MacDonald’s in order to calm him. The final section includes shoppers in the gift store making various comments on what objects it is they desire to purchase as memoirs of the zoo.

City Zoo / Zoo City was commissioned by the radio program Sons d’esprit (CKUT FM, Montréal) and made possible by a grant from the Canada Council [for the Arts] (CCA). It premiered on CKUT FM during the 7e Printemps électroacoustique festival in June, 1992. All of the source recordings were made at the Metro Toronto Zoo. It was realized in the EARS Studio of The Banff Centre for the Arts using a digital sound editing workstation.


  • June 1992, Concert, CKUT FM, Montréal (Québec)