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Infinite nightingale song

We begin our tour of some of the sounds of nature with this piece, broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme in late November 2018 to promote the launch of the Sounding Nature project.

The original sound is nightingale song recorded by Phil Riddett in Hemsted Forest, Kent on 27th April 2008.

The nightingale is known throughout the world for its beautiful intricate song – the bird itself far more often heard than seen.

For the reimagined piece, we wanted to put the very song of the nightingale under the microscope, to give it a forensic and deep examination.

In changing the pitch of the song dramatically, we examine what it means for some species of bird to be forced to pitch up their own calls in order to avoid the huge amounts of human-made traffic noise – often at risk to their own ability to be heard.

The main drones are various passages of nightingale song slowed down to 20x and 30x their normal speed and pitch-shifted.

Over the top of that, processed sections of nightingale call punctuate the piece, and out of the microscopic examination of the pure sound, a different kind of music starts to emerge, perhaps the DNA of the nightingale’s song.

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