Mixolydian thrush LISTEN 00:02:25


This 64-bar Reaper project focuses on a recording by *Donald Kroodsma of a wood thrush whose 'song,' at a remarkably constant tempo of 26 bursts per minute (a tempo of 106 bpm), spans the entire composition. Using ReaTune I digitized the audio, lowered the MIDI notes 2 octaves and assigned them to a simple waveform, adding a reverb effect to mimic the spatialization of a forest. The MIDI pitch events were analyzed using the R package tuneR, from which I chose a G Mixolydian scale (though the bird may have been thinking Ionian). Inspired by the bird, I play notes from a D7 chord both on a MIDI controller with arpeggiation, and on a soprano recorder transposing the song up 2 octaves to approach that of the wood thrush. Because several of the song bursts reminded me of Gershwin's Prelude #1, repeated fragments of that *piece, played by the composer, were inserted into the middle of the project. To add a stronger rhythmic foundation I used four *Young Guru tracks: synthharp, key_1, percussion 2, and white SFX3. The composition begins and ends with a slowed recording of a *pileated woodpecker.

To me the composition feels like a walk through a forest during which I hear birds singing and pecking, mimic them on my flute, perform some melodic quantization, imagine a pianist practicing (perhaps my father), and conjure up a few modern electronic motifs to spice up the afternoon. Your results may vary.

I am most grateful to Dr Jason A. Freeman of Georgia Institute of Technology for teaching Reaper and illustrating so many inspiring techniques. I also thank Freya De Cola for bringing the wood thrush recording to my attention.

*All audio tracks are used with permission, are in the public domain, or were recorded by me.