Over nine years at dawn, Cosmo Sheldrake carried recording gear, laptop, and sometimes a keybord into fields and woods to make music in collaboration with endangered birds. The result is his new album Wake Up Calls.
I’ve been making… music out of field recordings of British birds, in particular endangered British birds, to try and highlight some of the beauty we’re losing in this often unconscious way.
He’s fashioned a kind of “prepared piano of birds” by arranging recorded sounds of birds on an an electronic sampler that he then composes into songs.
The music is charming, curious, somehow out of time. It feels like it is of another place, as though it emerged from ancient woods and the birds themselves.
After he’s created a piece Sheldrake often goes back to the woods or “a place the likes of which it might actually have originated from” and plays them.
In some sense, there is a kind of romantic idea at least in my mind that if you play sounds of endangered species hopefully it will encourage them to come back .
We’ve found it to be perfect music to listen to in the morning. It has raised our awareness of bird song around us, even in noisy New York City, and the more astonishing work that birds do…
I’ve always love this image of when the sun rises the birds sing. And obviously the sun travels and the dawn is constantly wrapping the earth, and bathing it in birdsong basically in dawn chorus and evening chorus. Twice a day there is this constant sonic kind of bathing process going on around the world at all times…
Read more about Sheldrake’s work in “A Conversation Across Time and Space: The Power of Birdsong” at The Guardian.
With thanks to Ruth Kissane.