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 (http://carolinabirds.org/) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AEastern_Towhee_(Pipilo_erythrophthalmus)_RWD.jpg
“Birdsong” Copyright C. Gallant 2016, all rights reserved.