Get grooving to birdsong

Travancore Scimitar Babbler is muse for music project.

Move over Honey Singh and Baba Sehgal. The next tune to set the dance floor aflutter may be the Travancore Scimitar Babbler, a small species of bird found in the dense jungles of the southern Western Ghats.

Known for its distinctive bird call, the Babbler is the muse for the international collaborative project, SkyIsland Beatbox project. New York-based musician Ben Mirin; Bengaluru-based photographer Prasenjeet Yadav; and bird ecologist V.V. Robin from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) plan to come up with a song whose beats are taken from bird calls.

Already on the skyisland web page, one can find the shrill Babbler competing with the low guffaws of vultures, to bring out the anthropogenic version of nature’s song.

The intention, says Mr. Robin, is to showcase birds that are threatened, scientifically interesting, and melodious. “It is conservation and aesthetics together. Conservation is currently all doom and gloom. Yes, things are bad, but we can look at them in a positive way to say that all is not lost,” he says.

The beats will also send out a reminder that Music in India has never been too far from the songs of birds. After all, three of the seven notes in a raga — basic musical modes — reflect the sounds of nature’s most melodious species: sa, the cry of the peacock; ma, the call of the heron; and pa, from the crooning of the cuckoo, says Mr. Robin.

The man behind the compositions is Mr. Mirin, who is combining his passions for bird-watching and beat-boxing. As part of the project, he has already created a catchy song of 16 different bird calls found commonly in New York.

The team will tour south India this September, conducting workshops where the public will be taken on bird walks, and make music with their calls. The project will eventually see the music created by Mr. Mirin infused with the videos shot by Mr. Yadav to convey the importance, beauty and wonder of birds.

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Printable version | May 23, 2020 6:07:38 PM |

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