Birds Again – – –

Jack is allowed to be late this time because the Monday book review was late – so there!

John Coltrane

A couple of weeks ago I posted about an imaginary conversation between birds in our front yard. But, actually, I’m really fascinated by their songs. They have the most amazing range of sounds – some just repeated but often with subtle changes between each repeat.

It reminded me about something I read about many years ago –

I remember it as being about the jazz sax player John Coltrane, but it might just as easily have been his contemporary Eric Dolphy.

But whoever it was supposedly recorded bird calls then slowed them on playback to half speed so he could learn the phrasing and then use it in his solos. This was in the 1950s or 1960s when people like Coltrane and Dolphy were pushing at the musical boundaries and looking for inspiration in unlikely places. I believe he also listened to ‘Ceol Mor’ (the great music of the Highland bagpipes also called Pibroch) which takes a simple theme (ground) and then repeats it numerous times with ever more intricate variations.

So combining these two influences that might seem very different actually makes a lot of sense.

Unfortunately, when I searched on-line for corroboration I could only find much more recent references to other and newer players, but I’m convinced that I’m remembering this correctly.

Meanwhile our blue jays, robins and house swifts continue to communicate very melodiously.

PS The greatest of the jazzmen was, arguably, Charlie Parker whose nickname was ‘Bird’.

PPS One of the most famous jazz clubs was ‘Birdland’.

PPPS Our guestroom and my radio show studio is called ‘The Birdhouse’ because of the wallpaper!

1 thought on “Birds Again – – –

  1. Hi Wendy

    I was just walking the shelves at my public library and your book about the Tales of the Lonesome Pine just popped out and called my name.
    Just a note to tell you how MUCH I’m enjoying it! I’m definitely putting you, Jack and Big Stone Gap on my Road Trip Bucket List. I’m an “incomer” also, in need of all the Third Places I can find!

    Thank you for soothing my soul by writing about books and book-ish people!, Jeanne

    p.s. I live in NC near Lowgap, Roaring Gap and Air Bellows Gap!


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