. art —

Year created:


Birdsongs:The Language Gene

Humans are not the only ones that create music. Birds not only sing songs but improvise upon their creations. In fact studies have shown that they never sing a song exactly the same way twice. A typical song is only a few seconds long but can consist of fifty or more individual notes that can be as short as a ten thousandth of a second. A bird can sing a song up to five times faster than a human can utter the equivelent in syllables. In addition to songs, birds can vocalize from five to twenty calls which may include love songs, alarm calls, lullabies and war sounds.

Birds can sing duets with themselves because their vocal organ, the syrinx, has two vibrating membranes that can create and modulate two separate tones simultaneously. Birds use their beaks and throats to alter the musical quality of their song like humans use their mouth and throats to change theirs. Language is innate and therefore genetic. Its essential structures can be found in other species like songbirds who possess the same FoxP2 gene that is responsible for language in humans.

"Birdsongs: The language gene" uses songs and calls recorded from nature to reconfigure them digitally as human music. "Birdsongs; the language gene" was presented in the "Sonic Fragments" soundart festival at Princeton University in March 2008 and in Soundlab VII in Cologne in 2010. An audio CD/Blu-ray disc of "Music for Birds (and Humans") will be produced.