Forgive me if I have already said any of this before; it is a favourite story of mine and is required here in order to contextualise today’s little creation…

The first time I realised the magical role that everyday sounds could play in my life was 4 years ago when a Blackbird decided to sing loudly atop Mark’s house at around 3am every morning during the early Spring. It was extremely near to us and its song was very loud. It woke us up really early every morning for about a fortnight but the next year, when the Blackbird decided to sing further away down the street, I missed the intimacy of his song which had almost been in the room with us the year before. Time and memory have endowed the song of this Blackbird with mythical qualities and now my recollection of its song is very potent; I think of it as a half-lit blue sound mixed with the comforting glow of street lights and the stony calm of the sleeping street. In my memory, the sound, resonating off the cool brick walls, drifted in through the muslin curtains in fluted phrases like sonic snowflakes or an audible form of starlight. I did not know at the time that a Blackbird was responsible for this wonderment; I consulted with many online resources and started to learn about birds in order to come to that conclusion, and so began my fascination with bird song and, most especially, with the song of the Blackbird.

Sadly, my knitted interpretation of The Blackbird does not sing, but I hope it will please my Godmother, who is 90 tomorrow and a truly seasoned birdwatcher. I hope I am not making dangerous assumptions by believing that she certainly doesn’t read this blog but I am pretty sure the surprise won’t be ruined by a little reveal here. My Godmother always kept two sets of binoculars on the table when she lived in a Bungalow with a large garden, and when I stayed with her there she would get me to use one set and tell me about all the birds we could see in her garden – which mostly included collared doves, wood pigeons, blue tits and starlings. She has moved to an excellent retirement flat now which doesn’t have so much birdlife immediately in view so I thought she might appreciate a CD of different bird song and this little guy to keep her company all year round.

I have since broadened my avian speculations to include all bird species, and have learned that I am definitely not alone in being sonically inspired by their songs. And so it is that this Sunday I am going to Somerset (weather permitting) to participate in a fantastic piece by my friend Kathy Hinde called Twitchr.

Twitchr is focussed around the spectacular flocking behaviour of Starlings and uses photographs of Starlings to create a musical ‘score’ which can be played online. Here is the blurb:

Come along to the Starling Walk on the Somerset Levels with Kathy Hinde and Lisa Thomas on Sunday November 15th at 2.45pm

Expect spectacular formations of thousands of starlings… Follow birdtwitchr on twitter for updates.

Twitchr is a new online application created by Kathy Hinde and Ed Holroyd commissioned by Thrive Somerset for online exhibition at launched October 2009.

Twitchr invites you to upload photographs of starlings onto a map of Somerset marking the location and date the photo was taken. The map of markers then becomes a musical score, giving a louder voice to the starlings of Somerset and new tunes to sing. BRING A CAMERA!!

I might have to knit a starling after this… I very much enjoyed trying to work out all the sections of my blackbird and he has been made fully in the round and then wet-felted. I need a fantastic recipe for short-rows before I finalise the pattern; any good ideas?

3 Responses to Blackbird

  1. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Blog Archive » Music as Local Produce

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