Soundscapes

birdsong
morning birdsong

After a hiatus of several months, I am back in the studio starting my next project. This extended pause has given me time to regroup, take on some small projects for exhibitions and begin to garden again.

The delight of listening to birdsong in the garden never leaves me. Nor do I take it for granted, knowing that my brief times living in the city were devoid of this signature soundscape. When we lived in country Victoria the dawn chorus of birdsong in spring was a reminder of the changing seasons; birdsong waking the earth from its slumber, bulbs  bursting into flower, eggs hatching.

In Secrets of the Soil, philosopher Rudolf Steiner writes that birdsong has a powerful effect on plants flowering and fruiting. Similarly, birdsong has inspired poets, scientists philosophers and musicians through the ages. It is one of the most studied soundscapes, inspiring French composer and ornithologist Olivier Messiaen to create a suite of bird song inspired pieces including Réveil des oiseaux, (Awakening of the birds) in 1953 for piano and orchestra.

The language and songs of birds were originally a footnote to my research on sound and light waves. However in 2016, I embarked on my honours research project focused on recording the sounds of making paper and reinterpreting these images as songlines and fractal mandalas. Birdsong featured as small nodes on the sound line as I rested my paper outside to dry. It sparked a renewed interest in creating a body of work responding to an immersion in birdsong. In the musical mythology of Persian culture, bird song was considered a form of zikr or remembrance of God, praising creation.

Sonograms of the musical notation of bird song feature in the work of John Wolseley. As I embark upon my new body of work I continue to be inspired by birdsong.  How it will be visually translated is my research challenge.

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