Accompaniment for a Breeze

MIT_Bruyninckx_figure 2.1Inspired by the musical notations of birdsong that field naturalists composed at the beginning of the 20th century and featured in my dissertation, artist Oscar Santillan produced a wonderful performance in an abandonded park. Five musicians (on oboe, horn, violin, clarinet and cello), hidden in the wilderness, interpret a composition that is based on a transcription of the sounds of elusive birds that once populated the area.

 

 

Scientific Troubadours

I  just read this wonderful article by Vassiliki Betty Smocovitis in which she provides a historical survey of songs and musical productions that were inspired by Darwin and his theory of evolution, and their role in its popularization and dispersion. Examples include this fantastic parable about an ape who falls in love with a lady and tries to disguise himself as a classy man:

He bought white ties, and he bought dress suits,
He crammed his feet into bright tight boots—
And to start in life on a brand‐new plan,
He christened himself Darwinian Man!
But it would not do,
The scheme fell through—
For the Maiden fair, whom the monkey craved,
Was a radiant Being,
With brain farseeing—
While Darwinian Man, though well‐behaved
At best is only a monkey shaved!
or this ‘Monkey to Man’ by Elvis Costello:
Every time man struggles and fails
He makes up some kind of fairytales
After all of the misery that he has caused
He denies he’s descended from the dinosaurs.
In the fashionable nightclubs and finer precincts
Man uses words to dress up his vile instincts
Ever since we said it
He went and took the credit
It’s been headed this way since the world began
When a vicious creature took the jump from Monkey to Man.

In the same vein, this Guild of Scientific Troubadours provides an admirable and most stimulating current day example. Troubadours pledge to “write, record and submit one (1) song per month, based on a story in one of a number of scientific publications” such as there are ‘Nature’, ‘Discoverer’ and ‘Science’. This is indie music that keeps you moved and informed at the same time. Consider for instance, this “The Shape of Your Words” and the accompanying ‘Kiki or bouba? In search of languages missing links’ in the New Scientist. They complement this artful craftsmanship with great examples of science art…