This article considers musicological consequences of recent proposals by climate researchers to date the beginning of the Anthropocene—the geological epoch in which human activities define the Earth system—to the period immediately following New World colonization. Colonial decimation of Indigenous communities in Central and South America led to land abandonment and a reforestation event. In 1610, this reforestation triggered carbon dioxide sequestration and a planetary low point of CO2, a climatic signal that geologists call the “Orbis Spike.” I explore how colonization’s Orbis Spike alters the historiographical horizons for approaching musical and aural documents of the early modern to nineteenth-century Atlantic. The Orbis Spike proposal challenges musicological inquiry into the Anthropocene to be not only ecologically and musicologically sensitive, but also decolonial, antiracist, and critical of global capitalism. Accordingly, I develop Anthropocenic recontextualizations of Purcell’s Indian Queen (1695), eighteenth- and nineteenth-century musical and ethnographic representations of Native American “death songs,” and two practices of Indigenous resurgence via song: psalmody and Ghost Dance ceremonies. Recognizing how the lethality of colonization shaped the Anthropocene confronts the time of musical history with geological time, centering Anthropocene climate change as a background analytical framework for music seemingly far-removed from familiar ecomusicological themes. Ultimately, this article demonstrates Anthropocene stakes for early modern music studies and foregrounds the colonial underpinnings and contemporary racial asymmetries of ecological precarity as urgent questions for musicology’s emerging engagement with the Anthropocene.

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