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Is Birdsong Music?

Tom Service asks how birdsong has inspired and equipped human music over the years. With sound recordist Bernie Krause, Messiaen scholar Delphine Evans and naturalist Stephen Moss.

Birdsong has fascinated composers for centuries, but is it really music as we understand it? Tom Service asks how birdsong has inspired and equipped human music over the years. He listens to music inspired by birdsong, made up from elements of birdsong and performed alongside birdsong - why does it have such a deep effect on the human psyche and how have the sounds of the natural world informed the development of human music?

With contributions from sound recordist, musician and ecologist Bernie Krause, Messiaen scholar Delphine Evans and naturalist Stephen Moss. Also archive material from Ludwig Koch, the pioneering sound recordist who made the first documented recording of a bird as an 8 year old in 1889.

Rethink Music, with The Listening Service.

Each week, Tom aims to open our ears to different ways of imagining a musical idea, a work, or a musical conundrum, on the premise that "to listen" is a decidedly active verb.

How does music connect with us, make us feel that gamut of sensations from the fiercely passionate to the rationally intellectual, from the expressively poetic to the overwhelmingly visceral? What's happening in the pieces we love that takes us on that emotional rollercoaster? And what's going on in our brains when we hear them?

When we listen - really listen - we're not just attending to the way that songs, symphonies, and string quartets work as collections of notes and melodies. We're also creating meanings and connections that reverberate powerfully with other worlds of ideas, of history and culture, as well as the widest range of musical genres. We're engaging the world with our ears. The Listening Service aims to help make those connections, to listen actively.

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34 minutes

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