May 23, 2022 1 min, 48 secs
For Poster, one of the film world’s most prominent music supervisors who has worked with directors like Wes Anderson, Martin Scorsese and Todd Haynes, the hoots and caws of birds inspired him, and the project’s executive producer Rebecca Reagan, to ask their wide range of musical contacts if they’d be interested in creating their own odes to aviary life.

More than 200 artists enthusiastically agreed to create new pieces to salute birdsong.

For Poster, the project has as much to do with the activist movement to protect birds as it does with an appreciation for the sounds they make.

Many tracks strike a meditative tone and their arrangements tend toward the spare, the better to leave room for the birdsong to alight on the music.

Interestingly, few of the mixes of human sounds and birdsong feel imposed or ornamental, despite the fact that the birds had no say in the matter.

“Birds make music for the same reasons we do,” he said.

The For the Birds project is far from the first musical venture to employ birdsong.

According to composer Nico Muhly, who contributed a track to the project, “you can hear it as far back as pre-baroque music, where stringed instruments were used to imitate natural sounds”.

Likewise, the contemporary musician Paul Winter has used nature sounds in his music for decades.

For Poster, role models for the project were the tweets and coos in classic rock songs like Layla, by Derek and the Dominoes and Blackbird, by the Beatles.

The first artist he contacted was Nick Cave who, along with Warren Ellis, created a piece featuring the sounds of mourning doves.

The artists on the project cover a broad landscape of genres, from modern alternative stars like Devandra Banhart, to vintage folkies like Loudon Wainwright, to avant-gardists like Terry Riley to jazz artists like Rudresh Mahanthapp.

“They screech and scream, and some make sounds so deep, they’ll rattle your breast bone if you stand right next to them.

The sheer variety of sounds birds can make is staggering.

Some can even make multiple sounds at once.

The contributors don’t all come from the world of music.


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