Dawn Rechorused

Sound Art Composition

A sound art composition, Dawn Rechorused takes a recording of the dawn chorus running initially at normal speed. Then, as the piece progresses, the birdsong gets slower. First to 1/2 then 1/4 then 1/8 of the original speed using imperceptible crossfades. I think it’s amazing how the birdsong changes. When it gets really slow it sounds almost tropical.

It serves to show the fascinating melodic variations of garden birds. The more the original is slowed down, the more varied and unusual the bird’s melodies become. Things that can’t be distinguished at normal speed become clear. Although it’s old-fashioned, slowing down analogue reel to reel tape in this way presents a much more organic and natural quality than trying to slow down modern digital recordings.

In a Bluebell Wood

Ambient music composition.

An ambient music composition. The natural soundscape of a bluebell wood recorded near New Park Manor in The New Forest, is combined here with an electric piano fed through a pair of Uher reel-to-reel tape recorders to create a softly disintegrating analogue tape echo. The piece aims to evoke the gentle movement of the bluebells in the Spring breeze.

Brockenhurst Dawn Chorus

The dawn chorus of birdsong, recorded at about 5.00am in Brockenhurst during late March.

The dawn chorus of birdsong is the natural world’s most impressive and renowned ‘concert’. It sounds beautiful to us, but to the birds it’s simply a way to for rival males to resolve territorial conflicts. Basically, the louder and stronger your song and the more time you spend singing it, the better territory you can claim and the higher the chance of a female choosing to mate with you.

Experts contend that birds sing in the mornings because at this time, their sound carries further due to the lack of general noise and also the density of the air at that time of day.

The first birds to sing are often blackbirds, robins and wrens. Apparently birds with larger eyes start to sing earlier than those with smaller eyes. Larger eyes provide better light-gathering ability, so larger-eyed birds feel safe singing in the low, early dawn light because they find it easier to spot predators that might be attracted to their song.

Most of the dawn chorus comprises of males singing constantly repeating patterns of tones from elevated or conspicuous spots within their territory or breeding areas. Once the light levels start to rise, it’s often hunger that drives birds to stop singing and start looking for food instead.