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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote® All That Jazz

Air Date: Week of

Mallards Skating (Ā© Jennifer Tomaloff)

From penguins to ducks to larks, birds have served as an inspiration to many jazz composers, as Mary MaCann reports in today's BirdNote.


CURWOOD: Edward Elgar had a habit of walking in the woods round his home in England's west midlands when he was composing. Famously he exclaimed: "The trees are singing my music!" And he wasn't the only composer to look to the natural world for help and ideas. Here's Mary McCann with our BirdNote®.

MCCANN: Birds are an inspiration for many musicians.


Gentoo Penguins (© Sean Oneill)

Bandleader Raymond Scott probably saw these birds at the Central Park Zoo before writing his waddling 1937 hit “The Penguin.”


All penguins are clumsy on land but these Gentoos are superlative swimmers - the fastest of any diving bird - reaching 22 miles an hour, and diving to 600 feet.


Speaking of swimmers, Brazilian composer Joao Gilberto has swans, geese and ducks doing the samba in his song “O Pato,” or “The Duck,” sung here by Karrin Allysson.


Jazz musicians improvise on a theme, and Dave Brubeck, who grew up in the West, undoubtedly heard the Western Meadlowlark


Western Meadowlark in full song. (© Tom Grey)

before writing “Strange Meadowlark.” The tune appeared on Brubeck’s legendary 1959 release “Time Out.”

[MUSIC: Dave Brubeck “Strange Meadow Lark” from Time Out (Columbia Records 1997 Reissue)]

I’m Mary McCann.

CURWOOD: To see some photos of penguins and meadowlarks and ducks, waddle on down to our website LOE.org.

[Jazz composers paint pictures in music of some favorite birds.]





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