Audio-piracy. Cf. John Oswald, known for his Plunderphonics, or glitch pop and mash up music uses “audiopiracy as a compositional prerogative”. He takes a sonic quote and keeps a degree of recognizability while shifting the parameters. His blatant approach makes the Plunderphonics distinct from samplepocketing, parroting, plagiarism and tune thievery. A good example of Plunderphonics is Dab on the basis of Michael Jackson’s Bad.

The term soundscape

Modern soundscape


Other approaches to nature

The indigineous relation

“The Fatal Shore” by Robert Hughes

Nature as sexual force

Elisabeth Grosz


Steven Connor


Mala Kline recounts a dream: “i am in the same location as the building i am sleeping in but long ago in some other age… i am with a group of women who do prayers for others… this is literally a place where secrets are revealed. i am looking at the tree and suddenly i understand the secret of the ‘language of the birds’ - why the birds are called the messengers (after the prophets and the dreams): i see a bird SOUNDING a tree branch. the bird literally sings the branch into existence by totally tuning into it, feeling it, becoming it completely - it sings it into being, its shape and all. i realize that all that is, IS, cuz it is sounded into existence. i wake up knowing this is a dream for u”


Classy singing The Nightingale

Nightingales interpreted

The loudest birds

Bittern or Roerdomp. The bird makes the sound through the oesophagus (he has long intenstines). It’s comparable with a burp, only this call is with its low frequency range able to travel kilometers.

Kakapo, parrot from New Zealand that cannot fly and is threatened with extinction. When making a sound he becomes inflated like a ball;

Sirrocco is the most famous ambassador for his species, a real celeb.

Goldcrest the highest frequency 9khz

Canary, the sexy fast syllabes

Humans cannot perceive intervals shorter than one tenth of a second). This is in fact the only aspect where birds beat humans (in the auditive range). It’s like they can hear in slowmotion, whereas we hear not the structure and intervals, if they are too rapid for our ear. But birds hear the transitions too.

For example:

Detailed analysis has shown dat in canary song there is a very fast alternation from low to high frequencies, produced in the left and right part of the syrinx. 17 times per second. Humans perceive this sound as a continuous trill, where in fact birds hear also the intervals inbetween (it’s called the sexy syllabes of the canary).

Early bird and late bird: the blackbird


It sounds a bit like laughter


and yes it’s famous for the nest trick like performed here on the wobler

Laughing Kookaburra

Black capped Chickadee (Dutch: matkop)

A bird that calls its own name: chicka dee dee dee

The chickadee has two calls: the wisthled fee-bee-ee and a more ‘zoemend’ chick-a-dee-dee-dee a researcher thought the fee-bee-ee sounded like hey sweetie but some variants said: sweetie hey.

Common Loons

Myna Bird

Birds of paradise

Pied butcher birds and magpies

Pied butcher birds in duet

Pied Butcher bird with baby learning the calls

Birds imitating Magpies, myna birds

bird imitating a cat and mice too

The Lyrebird The champion of imitation

And of course the parrots

Catbird mimickry

Pet bird house sparrow

a group of sparrows, sound:


gekwinkeleer van roodborstlijster ganzen die gakkend de beweging van de formatie coördineren

the tape recorder and the sonograph have revolutionized the bio-acoustics since the 50s. Stenography (sonographs) could for example show that 2 seconds of bird song actually contained 45 to 100 notes, with 50 changes of pitch.

Bird song is a combination of learning and innate instincts/skills. Especially the singing birds impress with their capacity at learning new things. Birds are born with their calls; but they learn more the songs.

Young birds practice their songs first in subzang during the first life year mostly all through summer (and not anymore in fall) to recapture the proces in the spring (molded sung). IN the subzang: hey sing the right sounds but not in the right order, a bit like an scramble. The exercise after being fed, they stil very quiet and still, eyes closed, heads a bit tilted, as if in trance, while they whisper the sounds quietly. When disturbed they open their eyes and stop the singing. In the spring when they resume their learning (kneedbare zang).

Birds sing most at dawn, perhaps to signal that they have survived the night and still own their territory or to let the newly arrived femals know about their existence.

Bird song is characterized by repetition: for example the wren can sing his song 50 times before he switches to another song.

Wrens are small, fast, brutal birds. They are not good fliers but are very active. They are one of the most talkative birds amongst us, much akin to the spotlijster. “Hun wijsjes die vol gezoem, gejodel en gegorgel zitten, zijnv aak ingewikkeld en afwisselend, nu eens muzikaal dan weer domweg luidruchtig.” “Een karakteristiek liedje begint met een rasperig geluid, zakt dan in toonhoogte naar een paar gejodelde noten, gevolgd door een kort fluitje, en eidnigt met een serke, heldere triller die abrupt afgeborken wordt. Dat alles duurt ongeveer twee seconden.” (Don Stap, p. 59)

Anatomy: Nearly 100 percent of the air that passes through the vocal chords is used. Compare with people: they only use average 2 procents to produce sound.

The larynx is called syrinx and is placed at the exit where the two airpipes conjoin. Some birds can at the same time or alternately use left and right part of the airpripes (two voices). So strictly speaking for expample the lijster sings a synchronized duet with itself. (door in elk van zijn twee luchtpijptakken een afzonderlijk geluid voor te brengen). Twee-stemmige zangers zijn: grijswangdwerglijster, de goudsijs, de Incagaai, de katvogel, de Lecontes-gors, de zanggors, de ijsgors en de Amerikaanse boslijster, die door hem de ‘meest veelzijdige en bedreven ‘inwendige duetzanger’ werd genoemd.” Als geluiden uit eenzelfde bron komen moten de frequenties een veelvoud van elkaar zijn, maar bij de tweestemmige vogels merkte men dat er twee geluidsbronnen waren. Het leek op iets uit een mythe.

Birds have the same hearing range more or less (humans have a bit a binger range). With birds they are the most sensitive in the frequency range of 1 to 5 KHz. They hear very slight changes in frequency, but humans can do that too (the ability to understand speech is pretty developed). Also the intensity of sound works more or less the same. The biggest difference is

the capacity to distinguish intervals: Birds can much better than human perceive how time is partitioned. They hear smaller intervals as distinctive breaks, whereas we hear a continous sound.

Some female birds may sing to lure the men back to the nest (he thinks it’s a rival).

Some birds sing all the songs they know in one medley to repeat then again the medley. Others sing every song for so many times before they jump to the next one in line in the repertory.

Countersong is when a bird imitates the song of his rival (he can overtake by taking the lead of the song - he just sings the next song of the sequence).

LIST of bird transcriptions

Chickadee (matkop) Hey sweetie (fee-bee-ee) and chick-a-dee-dee

varianten zeggen echter: sweetie hey, sosweetie-sweetie


witchity-witchity-witchity-witch naar gelang de plaats krijgt dit meer of minder lettergrepen.

Brilparulazanger: (snel omhoog klimmend) zeeeeeeeeeeeup

Towie: drink-your-teeee

Roodkraaggorst: pleased pleased pleased to meetcha (6 times per minute). er zijn varianten, waarbij een mannetje wel een dozijn ‘gejodelde’ wijsjes zingt. Een haast eindeloze verscheidenheid in jodelliedjes)

Humans and Birds

Etnography study by Steven Feld on birdsong and Kaluli tribe

Sound and Sentiment, Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression.

There’s a whole set of beliefs that organizes the interpretation of everyday living in a world that is full of birds and alive with their sounds. Myths, seasons, colors, gender, taboos, curses, spells, time, space and naming are systematically patterned; all of these are grounded in the perception of birds, and foremost, by their sounds.

It’s important to continually remind us what it means that all o society is structured around birds, like the sequence of a day, with waking up to a certain bird call, gathering in the afternoon to another, and again in the evening. The days is structured socially. Also cross-influences in the formation of language, metaphors, etc.

When women perform weeping songs they become the birds, and by the listeners they are compared to them.

Bird song can give song to the Kaluli, butthe Kaluli themsleves shape (cod and perform) what they hear. Composers hear these birds’ sounds in their heads and flood their inner senses with the call until it unravels into the melody of a song. The birds give them melodic form.

Also dances can be influenced, like by the Giant Cuckoodove, who makes a call in the bobbing down movement (wok) and then another one in the up movement (wuuuu). These down and up movements is reflected in the dancing. Attached to the costume are long streamers who make a shhh sound as they move. This resembles the sound of water, as the brids are usually heard calling near a waterfall or juts above the suhing sound of the water.

The central myth in the study is of a Muni boy who turns into a bird as he is denied food by a sibling and cries and weeps.

In another part of the book he describes weeping women, singing and semi-speaking around the corpes of a deceased: “My strongest impressions centered on the mixture of weeping sounds, actual wept melodies, phrases and longer texts that were semispoken, semisung while tears were being shed.” Women cry and it leads into weeping song; and men have weeping song move them to tears.

For my larger interests in weeping and funerary song: especially p.87 and 88 are interesting. Weeping is mostly done when social relations are disrupted, in face of abandonment, with all the mixed feelings it stirs.

Studies not always make distinction between all the aspects of mournful song, weeping, wailing, funerary songs, etc. Usually of descending dynamics and pitch, ‘tuneful weeping’ in northern india is for example a communicative mode. Wept statemetns are verbal messages in weeping intonations, delivered while shedding tears. It’s precisely the intention of Feld to describe more accurately the way these expressive weepings take form and meaning in the case of Kaluli.

Humans imitate birds with the voice


Oliver Messiaen Catalogue des Oisseaux (7 books)

http://jrscience.wcp.muohio.edu/nsprojects/ns1fall04/birds/home.html http://robertinventor.com/software/tunesmithy/pitch_tracer.htm

the vowels of bird http://earbirding.com/blog/archives/2578

about bird notation http://shallnot.calepin.co/bird-songs-notated.html foto https://dl.dropbox.com/u/285229/calepin%20images/musurgia_p30.jpg

Beethoven Sixt Symphony, passages of the cuckoo, the nightingale and the quail (kwartel)

Bartok Pianoconcerto 3 inspired by birds in North_Carolina after walks in the mountains.

Respighi Pini di Roma a record player is used with recording of nightingalei n concert

James Fasett Symphony of Birds: it’s entirely coposed of songs and calls of birds

Mozart Ein Musikalischer Spass, after his pet starling (spreeuw)who imitated a part of Pianoconcerto G major when mozart must have whistled it when walking on the market. He was incredible in grief when the starling died and organized a funeral with peom, and friends in the right clothes singing hymns. The composition that Mozart wrote not long after has the same ‘illogical mix’, some false notes, or arbrupt stops in the musical phrasing, long and unpredictable phrasings, abrupt ending.

De Zurich’s sisters

Female singers in duet with birds

Yma Sumac, the peruvian songbird

Kate Bush

19:30 into An endless sky of Honey one minute long duet with a bird

Clement Janequin, Chant des oiseaux


Insects: http://www.naturesongs.com/insects.html

The snappy shrimp makes an incredible blast of sound to stun the fish.


Crickets are known for their chirp (which only male crickets can do; the male wings have ridges that act like an instrument). On a hot summer night the sound of crickets can serve as a reminder of the unseen natural world that surrounds us.

Here you find a list of various cricket sounds: http://www.soundboard.com/sb/crickets_sounds_audio

This video gives a close-up of a cricket chirping:

Here David Rothenburg plays music with a cicade who only comes up every 17 years to make sounds.

More info on cricket http://insects.answers.com/crickets/how-and-why-crickets-make-their-sound

David Rothenburg and John Cooley, on cicades http://vimeo.com/68216788

11:00 - 13:10 cicades duet 20:00 clarinet with duetting birds 24:50: with whale 27:00 - 28:47 how do crickets synchronize 32:40 Special attention for pygmee women sing with crickets: 39:11: slow mo cricket (the end tail of the sound drops away)

41:52 - 42:52 sounds again

Interspecies communication

Non-biotic sounds

Plants have an incredible influence on sound.

Air. Cf. Japanese sound recordist Toshiya Tsunoda. He is interested in the properties of air, how it moves but also vibrates in solid objects. He made many recordings of air by lowering microphones in bottles, pipes, etc

Air vibration in a bent pipe: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=m4o8O_OwBhA

Compare also with the sound of

Rüsenberg, Kölner Brucken Sinfonie

Animals and language

Quote MIchel Leiris

To bring together the naked, scandalous world of the bird fallen from the nest and the magical world in which adventures in language take place. (Michel Leiris)

talking dogs

I love you

Husky arguing

wailing boxer

border collie




Flight of the tumblebee (Willem Tell adaptation)

Cocktail for two