For two years I lived on a forested property in a remote rural area within the Canadian “Aspen Parkland” area of North Eastern Alberta. My house was very close to a large pond, and from early in the spring, I was surrounded by almost overwhelmingly effusive birdsong, seemingly all day long.
Listening thoughtfully to this soundscape over time affected me in many ways, and one of them was being struck by the compositional potential of the birdsongs as musical motives, even with little to no modification or transposition. The result was Pond Terzetto No.1, a work for flute, oboe and clarinet, where I embraced the original gestures and “keys” offered by the birds in their calls.
After completing that work, the musical bird call motives were still with me, and were also transforming and recombining themselves in my mind. I allowed them to take a different journey with further development in a second work, Pond Terzetto No.2, for oboe, clarinet and bassoon. This work explores the this tendency for an observer to both perceive and invent subtle patterns and suggestions of melody from the soundscape. While the bird calls depart further from their original state, I endeavored to maintain the spirit of “The Pond,” which is what I called my home.
I’d like to acknowledge the following especially prominent birds, whose spirited songs inspired this work: the Red-winged Blackbird, the White-throated Sparrow, the Eastern Phoebe, the American Robin, and the Swainson’s Thrush. I also called upon the male Ruffed Grouse, not for his song, but for the sound he produces drumming his wings on his body. At the time of writing, excellent recordings can be heard of all these birds at websites such as http://www.allaboutbirds.org, though the bird calls I heard differ, due to regional variation.
Duration: ca. 10 minutes
Instrumentation: oboe, clarinet in Bb, bassoon