This has absolutely no connection with that wonderful sixties group, The Byrds, and I wasn’t going to mention the Fleetwood Mac instrumental Albatross until I came across this video.
And I obviously had to include Mighty Sparrow singing about ‘The Queen’s Canary’ … but didn’t!
The genesis of this post was an interview with this question: Do Birds Respect Human Musical Scales? But what if humans respected birds’ musical scales? The interviewee, zoomusicologist Emily Doolittle is no relation to Hugh Lofting’s famous Doctor who could talk to the animals. However she does does listen to them and then composes music, often on a commission basis.
You can hear samples here.
“I transcribed a blackbird song and wrote a piece, which arranges the ideas in the way a blackbird might, and gradually becomes more human like in the arrangement. … I’ve written a number of pieces since then which use animal songs but I also became interested in looking at whether sounds made by animals can actually be classified as music.
“One scientist has argued that the sounds of certain birds actually have remarkably similar characteristics to the same practices you or I would adhere to when picking drunkenly picking up the acoustic guitar at a half empty house party.”
That’s true: this canary (budgerigar?) is apparently singing dubstep, whatever that is.
I found that while looking for a short YouTube of bird song as an illustration for a selection of human music featuring genuine animal sounds. It seems that most of what’s available stretches way over an hour: the one I quote from below, lasts one and a half hours yet is supposed to be a recording of “birds singing at sunrise“. A sunrise that lasts that long? The cuckoo in the background is enough to drive anyone, well …, cuckoo.
But not everyone?
“We had a ring-necked dove fly into our picture window and then couldn’t fly. We kept it until he could fly again and while he was here we played this for him to keep him feeling connected to his outdoor life. He loved it. We sure miss him!”
Being inspired by nature should be … erm … natural, so if you yearn to get away from urban noise pollution check out Lang Elliott who is currently Celebrating the Voices of the Natural World somewhere out there.
There’s quite a selection of birds layered over cheesy music at Whistling Records. If you just want to listen, then there’s a stream option, but if you want to download, you have to become a ‘member’ and pay. However, if you really want to add, say, Johan Dalgas Frisch’s Symphony of the Birds to your collection, I just happen to have it in my archives, and now it’s downloadable from Zippyshare.
Perhaps better musically speaking were ‘bird warblers’, such as Percy Edwards, seen here with Morecombe and Wise. Others may prefer Ronnie Ronalde, the yodelling whistler, singing If I Were A Blackbird but my choice is the pre-WWII Alec Shaw.
Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony has ‘imitation’ sounds of a nightingale, quail and cuckoo at the end of the Second Movement. But he was deaf, so how did he know?
Although I posted a bird compilation last month, I still found 20 more bird songs and instrumentals in my archives which I hadn’t included. So I’ve bundled into them all together to be downloaded from here or here. There are several swan songs, but not mine …
As you wait for the compilation to arrive, here’s a short sample of a loon joining in some lounge jazz.
And if you’re a loonie, here is an hour’s worth.