Song of the Human

the dawn chorus in England begins about an hour before sunrise for me it's one of the most beautiful sounds you can ever hear I like the fact there are no supporting roles each bird has a unique song yet these separate songs combine to become something extraordinary but I've never felt that recording it fully does it justice because a dual chorus is a truly immersive experience standing in the middle of a woodland or walking around when the birds are in full song can be sublime however this year I'm attempting to recreate the dawn chorus in the winter garden at Brookfield place in Manhattan as part of an installation called song of the human I'm doing this by making 18 simultaneous recordings using devices that are placed in woodland in positions that match those of speakers which will be placed above around and below the trees of the main plaza of Brookfield place so that when played back the sound wraps around the listener to give a vivid fully immersive sense of what the dawn chorus is really like apparently this should be good for New Yorkers because a study suggests that a dearth of birdsong in the city leads to being more stressed because in nature when birds become silent it means that the predator is near and you should be on guard several people have told me that in Manhattan a predator is always near and you should be on guard but that's another story but funnily enough the theme of the piece is human nature it takes its cue from the theory that human speech is evolved in part from birds when humans speak we use pitch tone rhythm and dynamic to communicate or to put it simply when we speak we speak in music we see with the eyes but we see with the brain as well when we remove words and listen only to this music it sometimes feels like encountering a whole new species what's revealed is that we're each virtuoso singers of extraordinarily complex songs these melodies are as ancient as human beings and they give a snapshot of what's happening inside us that snapshot might turn out to contain love anger hope fear playfulness but what we don't find there things like race religion gender politics all the other potentially divisive labels the soul of the human as I call it is common to all people just like birds we're exchanging melodies and making them our own getting to know each other by our music and speaking a common musical language that goes beyond phonetic Maps such as English Spanish Korean and so on so for the piece in addition to birdsong I'm using human voices I've created a score that draws on the melody of our speech and the themes behind the music that we all make

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