Making birdsong music

Making birdsong music

ABC Australia

PhD student Jean-Michel Maujean is recording the melodic calls of Australian songbirds and transforming them into classical compositions.

Jean-Michel spends days at a time camping in Western Australia’s remote forests, recording the tuneful chirps of species like the Golden Whistler and Noisy Scrub Bird. He used specialist equipment like a parabolic dish to capture high quality recordings of distant birdsong, which is then fed into a 3D Spectrogram. This computer software creates a visual representation of the birdsong, which Jean-Michel uses as a compositional and performance aid. Later this year the finished compositions will be performed at a recital using instruments made by Jean-Michel, including 3D printed flutes and a ‘PV Cello’. Jean-Michel says birdsong first originated in Australia, so the project is a celebration of a home-grown phenomenon. “Some people think there’s no new music anymore, that all ideas have been used up, so I figure let’s look at the birds and see what they have to say about that because there’s plenty of new ideas that we can come up with,” he says.

Chunks of vocabulary to learn from video

  • It’s been recognised that
  • First evolved
  • The rich biodiversity
  • Locally and recorded birdsong
  • Music creation
  • I am studying a PhD (A doctorate or doctor’s degree – [from Latin doctor, “teacher”] or doctoral degree
  • Performing Arts
  • Out in the field
  • Recording birds
  • These various tools that I can employ
  • Somewhere in the distance
  • Clean music like sound
  • Squawk or Quack
  • I’m also open to recommendations
  • Bird species
  • Make a recording
  • Send it through
  • Pitch up a tent
  • It’s a way to look at sound
  • Play music
  • Sing along with birds
  • All ideas have been used up
  • And what not
  • New ideas we can come up with