There are plenty of questions raised by this
topic. Look at the questions which are pointed out in the text, and
discuss them. What evidence can you produce for your answers?
- Listen to some birdsong and try to write down the notes on
a stave. Listen to more than one kind and notice the rhythm as
well as the pitch.
- Write your own short piece of music based on natural sounds
or a natural scene - related to a specific place or time of year,
for example. You could also think about the fact that although
much in nature seems very ordered, there is also lots that seems
extremely unordered - a volcano, for example. So your piece might
be very tightly structured, like a fugue, or full of quite unexpected
events. How far, however, is it possible to compose a piece of
music with no structure in it at all? A recording of the freeest
of improvisations will invariably reveal a structure of some sort.
- Gather together a collection of pieces of music that are called
after, or describe, birds or animals. These might range from The
Trout by Schubert, the Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams,
though Lullaby of Birdland to The Hippopotamus Song
or The Gnu by Flanders and Swann. (be warned, there are
lots of them, so this should be a class exercise). Which ones
are based on animal sounds and which describe animal characteristics?
How do they make their point? You could also find out why some
performers are associated with birds or animals - Charlie 'Bird'
Parker, the famous Jazz musician, for example, or Jenny Lind,
an opera singer known as 'the Nightingale'.
- Discuss the implications of whether or not animals - or the
whole of nature - has a 'voice', as opposed to just making a noise.
If they do have a 'voice', how might that affect the way we treat
- In Psalm 19, quoted above, what is the Psalmist trying to say
about the created world?
- Music speaks to us in a way that goes beyond words. Our eyes
see sights that can affect us more deeply than words. Our senses
are natural, our words are human developments.
- Devise a collective worship that uses sounds related to the
natural world and and allows participants a chance to reflect
- It can be based on any faith
- You can include images and readings (quote these as references
if necessary - there are copyright problems for using other
- The music/sound can be some existing music or something you
have developed yourself sent as a midi file.
- Include a prayer or reflection
Music Imitating Nature - Composers
& Birdsong - But is it Music?
Music of the Spheres - Science
& Music - Does Nature Sing?
To Think About and Do