For the Birds! or, Avian Flew

On this edition of At Water’s Edge, another of our challenge episodes, this one having birds as its basis. We received over an hour of music from five artists: Museleon, Glenn Sogge, Skoddie, playman54 and Carbonates on Mars.

The challenge was to take field recordings of coastal North Carolina birds that we recorded, and do… something… with them. As with the frogs, the field recordings had to be the only source material, but artists could do anything they liked with them — cut them up, process them, turn them upside down, whatever. These samples were the source material.

We’re winging it for the rest of the episode (see what I did there?), with tracks from the Radio Spiral library, including works by Bing Satellites, poemme, Robert Dorschel, Specta Ciera, John Vorus, Gregory Bond, Dan Pound, Shawn McClure, and Lucette Bourdin.

Challenge Tracks

“Metal Wing” – Museleon

I like a challenge, especially if it’s one that involves reimagining field recordings to create sound pictures.

Have you noticed that the tiniest birds have the loudest voices?

For this challenge – *For the Birds! or, Avian Flew*, I used the field recordings provided of coastal North Carolina birds and after the usual lo-fi low tech processing, Metal Wing emerged. I began with slowing down sections of the file to create an atmospheric strange world, where I imagined the trees have leaves of glass and the tiny birds are brightly metallic, with metal wings fluttering and filtered voices tweeting and calling to each other.

After 19 years as an electronic musician under another guise, I finally decided to create a project which allows me to break away from some of the conventions that I have used elsewhere. I have been experimenting more with sound and to finally produce my own tracks. I use a range of field recordings, found sounds and hardware with minimal processing as I’ve always been interested in how sound can morph into beautiful complex patterns with the limited use of tech and processing. It’s the ‘small sounds’, anomalies, mistakes and the sounds ‘between’ that catch my ear. Many of the pieces I create are based on images and things I see, which act as a type of graphic score and increasingly I am using one field recording solely as the basis for the track I am creating, referring to my music as Sound Pictures. I then create artwork to accompany the tracks.

Odette Johnson

“Cyborgs All A-Twitter” – Glenn Sogge

The 3 tracks provided by Rebekkah were all used, a 20-min segment from each. A fourth track was one of the other 3 but completely time reversed. Each track ran through an LFO-controlled panner so the stereo mix of the channels was constantly changing. This was fed into a very large effects rack of delays and other things before entering a 5-channel frequency based collection of ‘strips’ of delays, frequency shifters, ring modulator, and such. Another strip massaged the sum of those channels on the way out. The final mix was processed with a diffuser, some mid/side equalization for more spatial definition, and a stereo imager.

Any and all allusions & illusions that can be mined from the title are valid — intended or unintended.

“Transterrestrial Avian” – Skoddie

This was made by taking 9 seconds of one of the recordings, shoving it through PaulStretch with many of the often neglected features turned WELL on, and then run through a bunch of VSTs I had lying around that seem to make things sound awesome. Amy says it sounds like a subway car, so I called it Transterrestrial Alien.

“Tomented burnt winged souls of Tartarus” – playman54

I used about 7 minutes of birds clean then messed them up to make this track.

“Jurassic Dawn” – Carbonates On Mars

I used one of the granular synths on my iPad, I think it was possibly Tardigrain. And AudioStretch and used Gliderverb, Dubstation2 and Adverb2 iPad apps.

Also to add, as science now believes more than ever that dinosaurs evolved into birds, this track explores the possibility of what a ‘Jurassic Dawn’ chorus might have sounded like. I imagine dinosaurs would have made chirping sounds like birds, albeit deeper and longer in some cases.

Library Tracks

“Hummingbirds in Slow Motion” – Bing Satellites – Song of the Hummingbird (2017)

“birdsong” – poemme – Arboretum (2017)

“DaD 020 – Arp and Birdsong as Dinner Music” – Robert Dorschel – Ditty A Day (2012)

“With Birds” – Specta Ciera – Accumulation Section (2010)

“Raven Medicine” – John Vorus – Foot of the Crow (2017)

“Blackbird In a Thunderstorm” – Gregory Bond – In Resonance (2016)

“Hummingbird’s Dream” – Dan Pound – In A Hummingbird’s Dream (2005)

“Take Flight” – Shawn McClure – This Music Plants Trees (2015)

“Raven’s Heart” – Lucette Bourdin – Raven’s Dream (2006)


Image by Thomas Quine – Gossamer WingsCC BY 2.0Link


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