As most of you realized when I posted “Hermit Satori – Thrushen Dream” two days ago, the featured recording was a series of Hermit Thrush songs slowed down and pitch-lowered, allowing us humans hear the intricacies that we believe the thrushes themselves actually hear.
It is so much fun to play in this way that I went at it again this morning, developing a brief 26-second “composition” constructed of Hermit Thrush songs and its nasal “way” call. My creation begins with the nasal call, followed by partial song phrases that I’ve tied together to create a melody that gradually flows upward in pitch before dropping down and then rising again at the end. I hope you like it:
Hermit Thrush Song Freeform Composition by Lang Elliott
The original recording from which I drew the call and songs is featured below. It was made by my friend Ted Mack in 1994. Given all the background sounds, you may wonder how I got such clean renditions of songs for the composition. Well, this is the magic of modern software, which not only allows me to pitch shift and time stretch (or compress), but allows gives me the tools I need to eliminate or greatly reduce the background sounds.
Hermit Thrush by Ted Mack, July 25, 1994, near Paul Smiths, NY
The only sound in my composition that is not of the Hermit Thrush is the pure tone at the very end. That’s part of the song of a White-throated Sparrow. I liked the way it sounded, so I decided to end on its note.
You may ask why I’m messing with nature like this. And here is my answer:
I really don’t think I can improve upon the natural. I’m just goofing around with melody and patterns, recombining for the fun of it, and perhaps also to help folks (myself included) hear the incredible “musicality” inherent in the Hermit Thrush songs. By pitch-lowering, stretching, and recombining, I not only delight myself, but also bring forth some of the magic which is obscured (in terms of human hearing) by the high pitches and quick pace of the natural songs. But primarily I’m just having fun, goshdarnit!