Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Winter Update #1: Not-So-Winter

Jamaica Plain, MA and San Francisco Bay Area, CA, Dec 22-Jan 3
all kinds of weather!

Happy New Year!

From a snowy wonderland in Boston, to the rainy climes of San Francisco, to today's gorgeous sunny day in Monterey, CA, the last two weeks have been a funny mixture of winter and not-so-winter.

I miss my birds, my sunrises.. and admittedly, even my blog! Am already plotting how to pick up the rhythm once I'm back to Boston next week.

Here are some audio highlights from the winter so far:

1) White-Crowned Sparrow Song My Christmas Day composition, using White-Crowned Sparrow clips from November 9th in San Francisco

2) Blackbirds in a Cupertino parking lot yesterday, January 2nd, en route to Monterey. Man these guys were loud! Did I really grow up to age 18 with these birds in earshot without noticing them once? Definitely some red-winged blackbirds here, though there may have been another, smaller kind of blackish bird as well.

On the planning front, I've been busy applying for a short-term artist residency at a couple national parks for 2011. Whether or not this pans out, I intend to spend a week or two living in a wilderness area this spring with "A Bird a Day" - even if I have to camp out with my Zoom recorder!

I've also started delving more deeply into the bird-inspired music of Messiaen. Olivier Messiaen, 20th century French composer, was an almost mystically-devout Catholic and a hard-core birder. His music does not merely reflect these passions: it is built out of them. His faith and his fascination with nature are integral parts of how he created sound worlds.

Messiaen would go out and transcribe the bird-songs he heard (essentially, taking musical dictation from the birds) with his own special shorthand music notation. Then, he'd create music based on these bird-song transcriptions.

My current favorite is Catalogue d'Oiseaux, where Messiaen captures whole nature scenes: different birds interacting, the changes of color in the sky, etc, with a single piano player.

It's great to have inspiration from a genius!


At January 27, 2011 at 6:49 PM , Blogger Hodge said...

Love your Christmas Day composition. You should consider sending or linking your work to Cornell's "Celebrate Urban Birds" site http://www.birds.cornell.edu/celebration/community/Spotlight/artistic-expressions


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