By Hoshino Sakura
Birds are all around us and their songs form part of our everyday life. Even in cities they are probably the most common wildlife we see and hear, so I suppose it is no surprise that their songs are used so much in music of all genres.
Ducks universally seem to be regarded as comical and cheerful, and their distinctive quack is commonly used to conjure up laughter. Captain Beefheart shows a special sense of humour with Golden Birdies, alongside Marsha Gee with Peanut Duck, and Lisa Carbon with Duck Cha-Cha. They all brought me a huge smile and a brought cheerful start to the list!
The skylark has one of the most complex songs and has been used as motif in art, literature and music to represent freedom, inspiration, hope, and joy, which I think is perfectly represented by Fanfare Ciocarlia and Ciocarlia si Suite.
I am not entirely sure which bird is referred to in Nina Nastasia's Bird Of Cuzco, but it is certainly migratory, and the bird's desire to sing after its long journey is used very poignantly.
The sound of a cuckoo is of course the ultimate spring birdsong motive and Saint-Saëns's Le Coucou au fond des Bois and Benjamin Britten's Friday Afternoon really capture the reflective and expectant nature of the gentle beginnings of the season.
Geese are also migratory birds and but this time the goose motive is used for a sorrowful parting in the haunting Cry of the Wild Goose by Les Compagnons de la Chanson.
Seagulls were popular this week, and one Song Bar customer - magicman – even confessed to having a playlist of seagull tracks on his laptop! Flowers In The Window by Travis and Watching You Without Me by Kate Bush both use the cries of seagulls to evoke loneliness or solitude.
French composer Olivier Messiaen was inspired by exotic birds he saw in cages for sale in Oiseaux Exotiques. The birdsong motives are mixed with a tension in this piece which for me is slightly disturbing, was he lamenting the captivity of birds? This what I felt.
I really struggled with the last track in the list this week. It went on and off the list so many times !!! It is Nigthingales and Bombers from the BBC Archive and is less a song, more a recording of a nightingale singing as bombers fly overhead on a bombing mission during the Second World War. When I listen to this I can only hear the contrast between the bombers created by humans and the exquisite beauty of the nightingale song, I feel that nature is rebuking us and giving in to hatred. And yet the nightingale sings on!
The Audio Aviary A-list Playlist:
Captain Beefheart – Golden Birdies
Marsha Gee – Peanut Duck
Lisa Carbon – Duck Cha-Cha
Fanfare Ciocarlia – Ciocarlia si Suite
Nina Nastasia – Bird Of Cuzco
Saint-Saëns – From Carnival of the Animals: Le Coucou au fond des bois
Benjamin Britten – Friday Afternoons
Les Compagnons de la Chanson – Cry of the Wild Goose
Travis – Flowers In The Window
Kate Bush – Watching You Without Me
Olivier Messiaen (played by Daniel Kirk-Foster) – Oiseaux Exotiques
BBC Sound Archive – Nightingales and Bombers
The Beautiful Birdsong B-List Playlist:
Minnie Riperton – Lovin' You
Frank Sinatra – Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square
The Meters – Chicken Strut
Bob Marley & The Wailers - Three Little Birds
The Durutti Column – Sketch For Summer
Ralph Vaughan Williams – The Lark Ascending
Love – The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This
Eva Cassidy – Songbird
Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers – Why Do Fools Fall In Love
Frank Haffort – The Mocking Bird
Virginia Astley – Too Bright For Peacocks
Caetano Veloso – Cucurrucucu Paloma
Birdcall Curtain Call Playlist:
Some actual birdcall footage for you, that echo many of these songs:
Guru's Wildbird Pick:
It's Itsu Demo Darekaga by Goosehouse (of course!). It is the theme song of a very popular anime series for kids and has various animal characters, but one is the owl and in the middle of the track they simulate an owl call.
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Tweet, trill and warble: music that mentions, mimics or samples birdsong. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
New to comment? It is quick and easy. You just need to login to Disqus once. All is explained in About/FAQs ...
Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.