Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

Haiku Wednesday: Birdsong


Eastern Towhee

Bird in spring, in flight,
Sings his own sweet song to find
The one meant for him.

Once found, they dance to
A song only they can hear,
Only they can know.

Egg, nestling, fledgling,
Taking awkward flight, in time
Learns to soar aloft.

I’ve been working on a piece of music, and it has been (and continues to be) a flighty process.

It all started when I was driving and got this flute phrase in my head.  I thought it was kind of interesting, and kept driving.  But it wouldn’t go away, like a bird in the tree in spring staking out his territory, warning away all his rivals, calling to any would-be mate.  Listen to me; listen to me.

So I parked and wrote it down, lest the bird suddenly fly away and be gone forever.

As I thought about it, I envisioned it to be a jagged piece, possibly dissonant, maybe an exploration of something more 20th century than I had tried before, sharp in talon and keen-eyed.

But like trying to identify a mobile warbler in a tree with thick spring leaves, it wasn’t that easy.

As I saw more and more of the tune, it wasn’t as it had first seemed.  It took on the air of a samba, it became more devil-may-care, maybe even sultry, maybe even defiant.  Now it danced with a piano partner, each taking turns to lead, then follow, a courtship dance.  Occasionally, it seemed to want to fly off in some random direction, only reluctantly being coaxed to stay in step and heed a measured beat.

But I don’t play flute.  So I thought I might have to turn it into a piano reduction, hands fluttering like wings chasing the darting melody high and low, or like two birds taking flight in their dance, soaring, swooping, then landing again.

I can’t tell you yet how the song ends; I can’t even tell you the voice/voices that will sing it.

But the egg is incubating in the nest, and once it passes its awkward fledgling phase, I know it will take flight.  Here is just a feather’s-worth on the wind.

Postscript: It was only while writing this post that I came to hear this birdsong echo in the music.


Image attribution: Eastern Towhee by Dick Daniels ( (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Birdsong” Copyright C. Gallant 2016, all rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “Haiku Wednesday: Birdsong

  1. The comparison of your flute melody to the Towhee is especially lovely. Sounds like a nice piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Way neat, Chris! How well do you know some of Messiaen’s “bird music”? There some wonderful stuff there, based quite literally on real birdsong. Long history of cuckoo pieces, of course, and other birds, going well back into the Renaissance. Eager to hear the result!


    Liked by 1 person

  3. How lovely! And what a gift to see/hear you blossom as a composer.


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