Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Birdsong and Music

Spring is well and truly here and I'm surrounded by birdsong.  Which is great, and very loud at 5.30 on a sunny spring morning!  I do rather like waking early and opening a window to listen to the birds while still snug under my duvet.  Unfortunately, I often either fall asleep again or sleep through it entirely.  I can't understand why some people complain about the dawn chorus waking them.  Much better to wake to birdsong than an alarm, surely?  There are those who complain about cockerels, too.  Okay, so they're loud and not the most melodic of birds, a bit repetitive.  My cockerels start the day with a good crow and I love the sound.  Each has a different voice and I can tell who is crowing by the sound they make.  When I go out to feed the chickens and let them out, I can hear cockerels on farms across the valley and it can sometimes trigger a conversation of sorts between mine and the distant cockerels.

The dawn chorus is coming to its peak now and it's not long until international dawn chorus day on 1st May.  The Wildlife Trusts usually hold some sort of events, but it means getting up and out very early.  If you don't hear the dawn chorus at any other time, it's worth making the effort on just one day to listen to the birds.  When it comes down to it, mostly the birds are saying things like 'I'm bigger than he is, mate with me!' or 'This is my spot, go away!' but some just appear to be singing because the sun is shining and all is right with their world.  It makes me want to sing with them.  I especially enjoy playing question and answer with a blackbird, trying to mimic the song and hearing another line sung back to me to copy, like Jeff Beck's 'Blackbird', where he mimics the song on guitar.

I’ve just had an email from the Goldsmiths College Music, Mind and Brain research group, inviting me to participate in part II of their Earworm (involuntary musical imagery) project.  Not that I have recorded many earworms since last October, when I did my original questionnaire and wrote about it here.  Most of my earworms since then have been fleeting, each displacing and replacing another in succession.

Part II is by invitation only, to do a second questionnaire, this time with an emphasis on musicality.  I found doing the questionnaire quite fascinating.  The questions weren’t challenging, but made me think about how I see myself and my relationship to music.  It’s not something I would normally reflect on, so this was a small journey of self-discovery as well.  It made me realise how important music is to me, even though I might not play it all the time and I very rarely listen to it completely attentively, without doing anything else.  Since birdsong is also music, it might only be a matter of time before a bird's song gets stuck as an earworm.

Current earworm: Desert Rose – Sting feat. Cheb Mami.  This one has been going on and off for a few weeks now, and it’s so beautiful I’m not feeling inclined to replace it.  It makes me think of silk veils, the light catching them as they ripple and flow.  I feel a choreography coming on ....

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