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Natural musicians

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  • Natural musicians

    I noticed a neat thing recently that I wanted to share. I went to a local festival that was held outdoors in a park. It was a warm evening and the cicadas were singing. A celtic band took the stage first and as the music started, the volume of the cicadas noticeably went up. Between songs the volume of the insects would go down and go up when the music started again. Apparently, Mother Nature loves to jam.

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  • #2

    I've long noticed that songbirds are attracted to string quartets (they really seem to love that Mozart cat) but will interact even with a little bit of fingerpicked guitar when in an otherwise quiet environment. 

    I've also 'jammed' with mocking birds, which is fun because they will sometimes pickup the melody you're whistling or 'reply' with a similar melody from their own stock of imitative song. For some time in the 70s there was a mocker that lived near the little house I lived in and I loved to engage him in whistle-off cut sessions when I'd come back from a night of drinking. I'm not sure my neighbors were as charmed but the bird and I seemed to dig it.

    (That said, I recently was studying up on mocking birds and realized that I might have been distracting my avian homey from the important job of going out and finding a mate. But part of what they do is learning other birds' songs, and their own mating competitions are basically cut sessions to see who gets the girl bird. So maybe I gave him some good chops. It was before cell phones -- and birds imitating their rings -- but maybe the Sunshine of Your Love riff I taught him one night got him lucky.)

    It's easy to understand how songbirds could get into the interactive singing thing, but I've recently started thinking about the curious reactions one gets from playing a guitar around non-songbirds like gulls and their land-based cousins the crows. Recently, not too long before dusk, I sat down to play guitar on the beach near my flat and a crow started ambling toward me when I started playing. It was one of those, I'm not really walking over toward you,  honest, sort of things where he walked a little to the right, then a little to the left, back and forth, coming closer until he finally sort of ambled by me about 7 or 8 feet away, giving me those funny, bird-glances over his wing as he went past, and then sort of turning to face me when he got on the other side. 

    I've had the same sort of thing happen with gulls on occasion, as well. What's interesting is that most of them seem oblivious but there seem to be a small percentage that seem fascinated -- even as they try not to let on. (But, you know, that this-way, that-way, ever-closer walk is a pretty good giveaway.)




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    • martygras
      martygras commented
      Editing a comment
      Last time I was around cicadas I couldn't believe how loud they were. Even being indoors they were still way too noisy.

      I must admit that being a percussionist, I think I take a lot of cues from nature. A lot of the rhythms I come up with are based on natural rhythms.