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music

What Kind of Music Is Bird Song?

Composers from Vivaldi to Beethoven have been inspired by birdsong. But how similar is birdsong to the music we create? Two recent studies offer contrasting answers. One analysis used nearly 250 song examples of the Nightingale Wren, pictured here, a tropical bird widely admired for its haunting... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music, science, vocalization

The Lark Ascending

In “The Lark Ascending,” composer Ralph Vaughan Williams conjures up a bucolic vision of pastoral England. Small fields, hedgerows, an early summer’s morning. And the display flight of a Eurasian Skylark: Alauda arvensis. The lark — not much bigger than a swallow — has been severely affected by... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  breeding display, music

Birds Inspire American Composer Maria Schneider

BirdNote’s Chris Peterson spoke with American composer, Maria Schneider, about how birds inspired her jazz composition Cerulean Skies, which received a Grammy in 2007 for "Best Instrumental Composition.""What inspired Cerulean Skies is birding every day in Central Park in spring, late April and... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music, reflection

Jazz for the Birds

Birds are an inspiration for many musicians. Before writing “The Penguin,” Raymond Scott probably saw these birds at the Central Park Zoo. Though penguins are clumsy on land, Gentoos like the ones pictured here are the fastest of any diving bird, reaching 22 miles an hour. Speaking of swimmers,... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

Dona Nobis Pacem - Peace on Earth, from the Birds

Doves symbolize peace on earth, goodwill to all.BirdNote celebrates the season with a version of Dona Nobis Pacem, arranged and played by Nancy Rumbel. read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

Music Inspired by Chicks Hatching - Mussorgsky and Ravel

Inspired by a talented friend's painting called "Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks," Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky wrote a piano piece as part of his famous work Pictures at an Exhibition. The composition was later orchestrated by Maurice Ravel. Have you ever watched a baby bird peck its way... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

Dancing with Birds - With Heather Murphy and Rhona Baron

Like migratory birds, the dances of North America travel from nation to nation. Beautifully colored songbirds may breed in the far north, but they winter in Central and South America. During a Zumba class, Heather Murphy realized this combination of dance, music, and culture might be used to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  migration, music

Vivaldi's Goldfinch

Bird song caught the ear of Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi. And he even named a 1729 flute concerto for a bird — the goldfinch. The source of inspiration for Vivaldi's Goldfinch concerto, or Il Gardellino, was the European Goldfinch, a tiny bird found throughout much of Europe, where it... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

Turkey in the Straw

Turkey in the Straw was a fiddle tune called Natchez Under the Hill before it was published with words. It became popular during Andrew Jackson's presidency, which would put it on the scene about the early 1830s. We know that Wild Turkeys prefer woodlands to barns with straw. Nevertheless, we... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

Surfin' Bird Meets Surfbird

The Surfbird - nothing like the "Surfin' Bird" of 1960s Trashmen fame - makes its home along the Pacific Coast. An oddly constructed sandpiper, the Surfbird forages on rocky jetties along the coast. The bird's winter range ranks among the longest and narrowest of any bird, from Kodiak Island to... read more »

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Topics & Themes:  music

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