Posted by: ajmithra21 | September 16, 2010

“BIRDS n MUSIC”


Birds are one of the most beautiful of all creations… Aren’t they? Of course they are.. There is so much we can learn from them, from living an organized lifestyle with what little they have and the way they take themselves and their homes and kids in times of adversities… Above all, we can learn a lot about music and the most important part played by music in its life….

Birds have never been to an university. But the fact is that, most of the universities around the world are behind birds, learning new things everyday about them.

Out of all that we can learn from birds, the most amazing habit is their singing, what the birders call as bird calls of bird songs.  Singing is their habit and way of living, but for us, singing is a hobby and we try to earn a living out of it…

Birds are the only creations which start their day with singing and end their day with singing… Oh! What joy they should have in their life to do so?

A small Sun bird’s call


(PURPLE-RUMPED SUNBIRD)

can be heard as far as 300 to 400 meters. If a bird is as big as a human and if it sings, its singing can be heard as far as 3 to 4 kilometers… Well, that is what Ornithologists say… To sing that powerful, birds need lots of energy. Hence, they need to eat very often, because birds burn lot of calories on singing…

Maybe their early morning singing is the reason that they are able to fly hundreds of miles every day in search of food and water and yet returns home with so much of energy to end their day with another open-air concert …  There is a saying which goes like this “Laughter is the best medicine.” Birds can’t laugh… Is that why they sing to show their joy? Where there is joy, there is strength… Is that the reason why the birds are so strong that they can fly and we can’t? Birds never go to a doctor because that their music can heal them…Music has the power to heal you know?

Well, how many of us start or dare to start our day with singing? Where there is singing there is joy and where there is joy there is strength… It sounds so simple isn’t it? And it’s not just simple but, it’s powerful too…Birds know this secret and that’s why they bring so much joy through their singing…

Birds sing in perfect pitch and perfect rhythm… Musicians use a software called “NEUNDO” for recording and the default set for the Tempo is 120 BPM (beats per minute)… The rhythm of the song of most birds is set to the tempo of 120 BPM… It sounds as if they had invented NEUNDO…Isn’t it quite astonishing or amazing or whatever you may call it?  The syncopation of bird songs has intricate patterns and most of them are new to men… They sing very short phrases compared to human singing, but, their syncopation has complicated but complete rhythmic patterns…

Once as I was birding, I saw a Chestnut-headed bee-eater


(CHESTNUT-HEADED BEE-EATER)

perched on a dry tree. Suddenly the bird flew as far as about 50 meters and flew back to the same place where it was perched with a dragon-fly stuffed into its beak.. The dragon-fly was still alive. So, the little bird whacked its beak. Tak, tak, tak, tak, tak, five times on either side on the branch where it was perched to kill the dragon-fly all in one motion… Was just wondering, why it whacked five times… Then I found that, in music a rhythmic phrase always ends on the first beat of the next bar… Don’t we sing in a funeral? That’s what the Bee-eater did?  Hmmmmm… Was that not the poor dragon-fly’s funeral?

Birds like   Plain Wren,

(PLAIN WREN)

Atherton Scrub Wren

(ATHERTON SCRUB WREN)

Carolina Wren

(CAROLINA WREN)

and even Babblers,

(COMMON BABBLER)

they spontaneously sing complicated rhythmic patterns like a seasoned jazz player… Most composers avoid composing on 5/8 rhythm because of its limitation and the complications involved in the execution of a song in this rhythm…

But, I’ve heard a Rustic Bunting’s bird call

(RUSTIC BUNTING)

from the Macaulay’s Library of Cornell’s lab of ornithology, sing in 5/8 rhythmic pattern… I felt so small in front of this small little bird when I heard that song… How it is possible for this little bird to sing in this one of the most complicated rhythmic pattern so spontaneously?

Each individual of Oriental Magpie Robin

(ORIENTAL MAGPIE ROBIN)

can sing more than fifteen songs per individual and each one is different… Just imagine how much competition would be there to impress upon the females?

There are birds like the Malabar Whistling Thrush,

(MALABAR WHISTLING THRUSH)

which is considered as one of the best singers of the bird community… Bird call specialists say that you would mistake its singing for a human whistling a song… But, I personally feel that, that statement shows human ego… If I sound arrogant, please forgive me for that, because, I personally feel that the song of the Malabar Whistling Thrush or any other bird on planet earth is ORIGINAL… NO COMPARISONS PLEASE… Each bird’s songs are special and they know that too.. That is why birds never get jealous of each other’s singing… Do they?

Researchers say that, if a bird doesn’t learn to sing early, the percentage of survival is minimized…  This means Birds sings for survival… The mother bird feeds the chick which shouts the most first… So, the louder you sing the more you eat… Imagine if the same rule applies for mankind, how many of us would still be alive?

Birds sing to attract their mate… A bird which sings the best gets the most attractive mate… If again, the same rule applies to us, scores of us still be bachelors isn’t it?

Remember, most of us prefer to sing in the bathroom rather than in the church! We sing for applause, name, fame and money. If we start applauding, each time a bird sings, I wonder if any bird could live near us, for they will fly away and never venture to sing before a man again… But, Birds sing for the sheer joy of singing… When would we learn to live like them?

An African bird called the Slate colored Bou Bou

(SLATE COLORED BOU BOU)

has a sound which resembles the wood block, a percussion instrument, which originated from Africa… May be the Africans were inspired by the bird’s call… There are tales after tales that say how man was inspired by nightingales and sparrows and cuckoos for their inspiring songs…

Birds never keep singing the same old songs all through their lives… To impress upon their mates they try to outwit their male subordinates by improvising their songs time and again… After all, female birds feel that, the males which sing the most complicated songs are the ones which are capable of taking care of their families better…  Is that why, great teachers like Socrates and Pythagoras taught music first before they taught mathematics and astronomy?

We stop teaching our kids with rhymes than music; and that too only till the kindergarten level… If only we had been singing all through our lives, this world would’ve been rid of jealousy, ego, hatred, terrorism and the list may go on and on… If Osama Bin Laden had practiced music, he would’ve been a carrying a 4stringed Oudh – an Arabian stringed instrument plucked with the Quill of an Eagle’s feather, instead of an AK47…

Birds live in perfect harmony not only among themselves but also with the flow of nature… Once I heard a territorial call of an Indian bird called Common Iora.

(COMMON IORA)

Each one was answering one another’s territorial calls. They both were singing similar phrase. Slowly, the calls turned a bit aggressive I thought; because, one was answering before the other could finish singing its phrase. At one particular point when one overlapped the other’s call, like what we call singing cannon in music, it turned into a harmony. As a musician, I know it was perfect harmony. But, I don’t know if it was intentional or accident. All that I heard was perfect harmony. They are in harmony with time and season. Rain or shine, no matter what happens around them the birds are able to sing.

A home or a street or a town or a city or a state or a country which encourages and practices music will live in PERFECT HARMONY…  After all music is all about harmony and perfection of body, mind and soul…

It is because of us trying to move against the flow of nature that the world is facing severe biological catastrophe. If only we could learn to live in harmony with nature? This world would be the same as it was in the beginning.               It may be too late and too hard to live in harmony with nature right now. But, we can surely postpone the inevitable to a certain extent. This can happen only when we unite together in harmony and save earth so that they Birds can sing and sing and sing forever and ever… Come on, rain or shine; let us all learn to sing like birds at all times and live in PERFECT HARMONY…

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