The other morning I woke up to the sound of birds out my window. It was a beautiful reminder that spring is here and hope is in sight. It was a morning symphony of bird calls!
It’s amazing to think of how many different bird calls there are in the world.
Most birds have a wide repertoire of songs and calls. Among the songbirds (such as cuckoos, owls, and nightjars), songs are used to defend territory and attract mates. Calls tend to be shorter and simpler—often just one syllable long.
There have been composers who use these calls in the creation of their music. I can think of two great French composers who incorporated them into their works, creating musical motifs that came directly from nature. In 1724 J.P. Rameau wrote, “ Le Rappel des Oiseaux’” ( The conference of the birds) in which he uses bird songs to create the effect of birds calling and responding to each other. In 1958 Olivier Messiaen composed his piano cycle “ Catalogue d’oiseaux” (Catalogue of birds) in which he incorporates such bird calls as the Woodlark and the Tawny Owl, creating music of vivid imagination and exciting virtuosity.
Thank you birds for delighting us with your sounds and for inspiring such great human music!
When you are walking on the sidewalk or spending time in the park, take time to listen to all the sounds around you. It’s a great reminder that music is everywhere and in all parts of our lives. When we are singing or playing our instruments we are contributing to the universal symphony of sounds. As you practice each day remember to listen carefully to your own sound. This will make your practice time productive and you will be amazed how much you can accomplish if you incorporate careful listening!
This month we have the two final concerts of our faculty spring series. May 7 features two duos, jazz piano and trumpet ( Zach Lapidus and Eli Asher) and viola and piano ( Daniel Lamas and Weiwei Zhai). On May 21 we will hear a program of night songs with guitarist Jose Maldonado and pianist Judith Olson and special guest violinist Rolf Schulte. I hope you join us!