The Birdsong Project Features 220 Musicians, Actors, Artists & Writers Paying Tribute to Birds: Watch Performances by Yo-Yo Ma, Elvis Costello and Beck

Birds are the orig­i­nal musi­cians. This, at least, is a premise of the Audubon Soci­ety’s Bird­song Project, “a move­ment inspir­ing bird con­ser­va­tion through art.” There could thus be no more nat­ur­al art form in which to cel­e­brate our fine feath­ered (and in many cas­es, now endan­gered) friends than music, which the Bird­song Project has com­mis­sioned for its first release, and in no small quan­ti­ty. They’ve so far put out the first two vol­umes of For the Birds, which in its total­i­ty will involve “more than 220 music artists, actors, lit­er­ary fig­ures, and visu­al artists, all com­ing togeth­er to cel­e­brate the joy birds bring to our lives” — and remind us of “the envi­ron­men­tal threats we all face.”

Those con­trib­u­tors include Yo‑Yo Ma, Elvis Costel­lo, and Beck, whose work on For the Birds you can hear in the videos in this post. And in the case of Yo-Yo Ma, who per­forms a piece called “In the Gale” (by com­pos­er Anna Clyne), you can see him play not in a con­cert hall but out in the midst of gen­uine nature.

This under­scores what’s heard bright­ly and clear­ly on the record­ing: that Ma and Clyne were just two of many col­lab­o­ra­tors on the track, the oth­ers being what sound like a for­est full of birds. Oth­er artists take dif­fer­ent approach­es: Beck­’s “Archangel” is a lush stu­dio sound­scape, and Costel­lo com­bines his own “The Birds Will Still Be Singing” with “And Your Bird Can Sing,” the most appro­pri­ate Bea­t­les cov­er imag­in­able (apart from “Black­bird,” at least).

Orga­nized by Ran­dall Poster, by day a music super­vi­sor for film­mak­ers like Wes Ander­son and Mar­tin Scors­ese, For the Birds also fea­tures music from, Jarvis Cock­er, The Flam­ing Lips, Kaoru Watan­abe, Stephin Mer­ritt, and Seu Jorge. And those are just the con­trib­u­tors known pri­mar­i­ly for their music: oth­ers involved in the project include Jeff Gold­blum, Til­da Swin­ton, and Jonathan Franzen. You can now stream the first two vol­umes on most major ser­vices, and pre-order the full 20-LP box set that will con­tain the mate­r­i­al musi­cal and lit­er­ary from all five vol­umes, the last of which is sched­uled to come out this Sep­tem­ber. Give it a lis­ten, and after­ward you’ll per­haps find your­self that much more able to appre­ci­ate the avian sym­pho­ny con­duct­ed all around us.

via Aeon

Relat­ed con­tent:

Hear the Sound Of Endan­gered Birds Get Turned Into Elec­tron­ic Music

Cor­nell Launch­es Archive of 150,000 Bird Calls and Ani­mal Sounds, with Record­ings Going Back to 1929

What Kind of Bird Is That?: A Free App From Cor­nell Will Give You the Answer

Bird­Cast: You Can Now Fore­cast the Migra­tion of Birds Across the U.S. Just Like the Weath­er

Google Uses Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence to Map Thou­sands of Bird Sounds Into an Inter­ac­tive Visu­al­iza­tion

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

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