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Classical Notes: May 21, 2007 Archive

A Bird in the Hand = Two Messiaens in the Bush

Posted at 7:38 PM on May 21, 2007 by John Birge

I have a friend who insists that birds are not musical. He loves music, and he loves birdsongs. He just doesn’t think birdsongs are musical. For centuries, musicians have imitated bird songs, but only one composer really tried to duplicate them, and that was Olivier Messiaen. Now there’s a website that takes samples of his musical bird imitations and puts them side-by-side with the actual bird sounds.

Meanwhile, today's NYTimes had an irresistably odd story about about the 400 year-old Flemish sport of “finching,” in which captive birds compete for the best singing voice. Here's a nice slide show. And be sure to read the article to find out how one competitor tried to cheat using a CD player!

Spose anyone has ever shown up at this competition with a kitty-cat?