For The Birds

Excerpt: “Birds of Prey” and “Water Birds”


Instrumentation: Amplified cello and electronic playback
Duration: 14:00
Commission: Cellist Madeleine Shapiro
Premiere: 11/3/05
Madeleine Shapiro, TechnoSonics VI: Ecology and E-Music
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA

Program Note:
For the Birds, for amplified cello and electronics, is an homage to the birds of the Yellowstone region as well as a play on John Cage’s book of that name. Rather than imitate the sounds of the natural world in music, I include them, sometimes clearly, sometimes digitally transformed beyond recognition. The joining of the voice of the cello with that of the birds reminds us of the joining of the human worlds with those of the birds that surround us, and the importance of maintaining their habitats. The transformation of their voices speaks to the transformative power of music. For the Birds was commissioned by cellist Madeleine Shapiro. I am grateful to naturalist Kevin Colver for sharing his bird recordings. Bird enthusiasts my also know that he is the narrator of the Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs: Western Region. Each of the four movements celebrates different bird groups.
1. Songbirds
2. Sapsuckers
3. Birds of Prey
4. Water Birds


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