Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mache's Zoomusicology


Francois-Bernard Mache, a composer and student of Messiaen, provides us with a different way of looking at melody. In his book Music, Myth and Nature; or The Dolphins or Arion, Mache guides us through the form of bird songs as opposed to their pitch construction. Mache was in search of a music that as it stated did not exist yet. He called it Zoomusicology where the ultimate goal was the creation of interspecies music.
Form in a Blyth's Reed Warbler song
Form in a Icterine Warbler song
Form in a Reed Bunting song

Mache is a strong defender of the notion that music exist as an expression in other animals, dismissing the idea that it is always functional, as in mating etc. He also points to how animals that are often thought of being monotonous , say the cricket for example actually have their own ‘Rubati’ with hesitation and change according to the environment. Moreover the sounds made by animals exhibit their own balance between variation and repetition when closely expected.


Form in a Dartford Warbler Song

Comparison of the form of a Satirical Greek song and that of a Pied Flycatcher

The pictures here show some of the different forms he found in various birds song. Mache was generous in showing how some of these forms exist in music with for instance an example from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and a satirical Greek Song. The pages here are some selections of the interesting forms various birds use.

There are questions to be answered though. what makes a song to a bird? How many do they have and what remains constant in each version?
Forms found in Skylark Songs

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