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Bird Music: A Taste Test

August 27, 2010

While driving home from various errands yesterday, I was privy to the strangest kind of bird music imaginable. Now, I love birds. I’m slowly crowding my house with bird picture-books and histories of ornithology, which I dip into, as if they were poetry. I’m serious about getting new binoculars and I’ve even started taking them on trips with me. I think about birds in my waking hours, sometimes wonder to myself: what would this cedar waxwing do if faced with the decision of blueberry pancakes or french toast for breakfast?

And, I love music. OK, I’m partial to classical music (nurture wins, I’m telling you), but I’ve been known to enjoy the occasional country music song. I think part of the reason I like country music is that my life is always better than what I hear in the lyrics!

Yesterday, though, I heard the strangest combination of my two loves — it was called Nightingale Serenade, by Enzo Tosselli (performed by Andre Rieu). Do have a listen — it’s the strangest, borderline ridiculous combination of melancholy melody/elevator music/nightingale chirps/easy listening/”classical” muzak. If Vladimir Nabokov were around, he’d call this the epitome of poshlost’ (otherwise known as “self-satisfied vulgarity”). I nearly drove my car into a tree.

(Here’s a picture of the chirping culprit, Luscinia megarhynchos, also known as the Rufous, which I think I’ve seen, courtesy wikipedia.)

OK, maybe I’m a music snob. I did play a bird piece, a few years back, that I quite liked — Glinka/Balakirev’s The Lark. Here you have it in Evgeny Kissin’s rendition. (OK, I didn’t sound quite that good and my version was never recorded.) Now that’s music! It evokes the essence of the lark, but doesn’t slam it your face with chirps and meaningful, soulful tunes.

End of rant. Let me know which one you preferred! I’m reading up on Olivier Messiaen, aka: The Uber-Intellectual Birdsong Master Composer & Ornithologist, and will write a post on his bird tunes soon.

In the meanwhile, mark September 14 on your calendar! Birds and Words has booked Crime Writer extraordinaire, Robin Spano, for a guest appearance! She’ll be blogging about birds and writing.

PS: Does anyone know how to embed Youtube into wordpress?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 27, 2010 1:37 pm

    Have you discovered Anna Raffi’s blog “Ornithoblogical: 356 days of birdies on my brain”? You really MUST check out today’s illustration of “Bird Watchers” http://ornithoblogical.blogspot.com/2010/08/day-240-bird-watchers.html

  2. August 27, 2010 2:29 pm

    That is one cute little bird. Thanks for calling me extraordinaire.

    This might help you embed YouTube: http://en.support.wordpress.com/videos/youtube/

    • August 27, 2010 2:35 pm

      Thank you! You are a genius! Yes the bird is cute, but the composition was utterly annoying. I hate that people think music like that is “classical” music. No folks, it’s ELEVATOR music! There’s a difference! Really, that’s the TRUE end of my rant:)

  3. August 28, 2010 7:50 pm

    The ultimate Gesamtkitschwerk.

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