Birdsong is comprised of all the elements that we associate with music: notes, melodies, rhythm, dynamic range, tempo, pitch and timbre variation, harmony, resonance and overtones, etc. Possibly, the songs of birds were the inspiration and origin of music itself when first experienced by humans. But birds do not rely on human invention and convention in their songs. Birdsong does not adhere to traditional Western (or other cultural) human concepts of scales, steps, intervals, tonic notes, etc. Staff, key signature and standard notation are not useful or even possible in many instances. Birds sing in their own unique musical language. And that language is electronic in nature. This is why for centuries composers – who certainly have always been enchanted by birdsong – have remained frustrated trying to precisely replicate or assign “birdsong” to anthropic instruments. Usually, an approximation written for flutes, is about as close to actual birdsong as they could get.
The electronic music revolution, with its computers, digital workstation tools, sample libraries, processors and open architecture has changed all that. Not only is it possible now to copy field recordings and “deconstruct” the contents, note-by- note and micro-tone by micro-tone – rearranging and altering passages in a multitude of ways or exactly mimicking the sample - but it allows true instrumental ensemble by utilizing fully programmable synthesizers and other electronic sound generation sources. We can now play and sing along with the birds in THEIR language. It is also possible to employ selected birdsong passages as stand-alone instruments that complement human instruments, creating a “cross-species” hybrid musical form. It is a two-way street.
No longer do we have to listen passively to the exquisite beauty of the natural world as expressed ineffably in birdsong; we can interactively participate as well. These compositions explore this expanded new frontier in music.