Aug 06 2013

I Will Sing With You

Published by at 7:15 am under Musings & News,Songbirds

Nightingale singing in Berlin ()photo by J. Dietrich via Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday while on my way to somewhere else , I discovered a blog called Goldbird Variations that began when the author started playing music for birds.

Years ago Lisa Rest of Chicago took up the piano again and often played with her window open.  One day a mourning dove flew to the windowsill and sang along.  She didn't understand what it was doing until later, wanting to share her music with an audience, she rediscovered that the birds were listening outside her window and singing as she played.

Soon she began intentionally playing music for birds, recording their duets and writing about her encounters.  Now she's hooked on birds and blogging.  I know how that is!

Lisa has perfect pitch and can tell that the birds do too.  Listen to a cardinal sing with her in this post that explains why birds are attracted to music.

Which leads to the nightingale above...

Lisa points out she's not the only one to play music for birds.   In May 1927 the BBC recorded Beatrice Harrison playing Londonderry Air on her cello in her garden in Surrey as a nightingale sang along.  The bird waits for her phrases and blends in at appropriate times.  Amazing!  Click here to download and play the mp3 recording from the Music And Nature radio program.

I have neither perfect pitch nor musical skill but I've encountered birds' interest in music when I whistle while I hike.  I'm particularly fond of Bach and Beethoven and since I don't sing well I whistle my favorite tunes.

Their favorite of my repertoire seems to be the second movement of Beethoven's 6th Symphony, Szene am Bach (Scene at the brook) from his Pastoral Symphony.

Of course the birds like that one!


(photo of a nightingale singing in Berlin.  Click on the image to see the original on Wikimedia Commons.  This post was inspired by the Goldbird Variations)

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “I Will Sing With You”

  1. Deniseon 06 Aug 2013 at 8:36 am

    Let’s not forget musician Paul Winter, who is mainly known for playing music with whales but has also harmonized a lot with birds as well! 🙂

  2. George Bercikon 06 Aug 2013 at 11:50 am

    One of the loveliest manifestations of human/ nature harmonics, at the sheer joy level.

  3. Kate St. Johnon 06 Aug 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Diane Korolog sent me this link to a video of an African gray parrot whistling Always Look On the Bright Side of life. She wrote:

    I had to send this to you after reading your blog this morning! I think it is incredible.

  4. Lisa Reston 07 Aug 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Thanks so much for posting about my blog, Kate! I was quite surprised at how many visitors I got because of it. If we have both made more people think about birds and music, I am thrilled! Your comment about Beethoven’s 6th reminds me of Luis Baptista who heard a White-breasted Wood Wren in Chiapas, Mexico singing Beethoven’s 5th. Which came first, the Wren or Beethoven? (I sincerely doubt Beethoven ever made it to Mexico). Fun.

  5. Kate St. Johnon 07 Aug 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Lisa, your comment about the White-breasted Wood Wren got me googling and I found an audio snippet from Pulse of the Planet, October 2000, that includes the explanation, the bird’s song, and Beethoven’s Fifth for comparison. Way cool!

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