Tunes for a Monday Morning
Monday, August 16, 2021
I woke up to a choir of late-summer birdsong this morning, so here's a collection of "bird songs" to start the week.
Above: "The Eagle" by Scottish musicians Jenny Sturgeon and Inge Thomson, from their collaborative stage show and album Northern Flyway (2014): an audio-visual production exploring the ecology, folklore, symbolism and mythology of birds. The music "draws on the field recordings of birdsong expert Magnus Robb, on Sturgeon͛'s background as a bird biologist, and on Thomson͛s home turf of Fair Isle, Shetland." It's a gorgeous album.
Below: "Union of Crows" by Salt House (Jenny Sturgeon, Lauren MacColl, Ewan MacPherson), based in Scotland. The song, written by Ewan, appears on the band's latest album, Huam (2020), which is highly recommended. Huam is a Scottish word meaning "the moan of an owl in the warm days of summer."
Above: "Jenny Wren" by singer, songwriter and folk music scholar Fay Hield (co-creator of the Modern Fairies project), performed with Sam Sweeney, Rob Habron, and Ben Nicholls. This is an original song rooted in the folk tradition, drawing on the "problematic pregnancy" theme in British balladry. Fay discusses this theme and the process of writing "Jenny Wren" here. The song appears on her deeply magical album Wrackline (2020), also highly recommended.
Below: "The Magpie," a song compiled from magpie superstitions and rhymes, performed by The Unthanks (Rachel and Becky Unthank), from Northumbria. The song appeared on their album Mount the Air (2015), and is performed here that same year.
Above: Sydney Carter's "The Crow on the Cradle," performed by the English vocal harmony trio Lady Maisery (Hannah James, Hazel Askew, Rowan Rheingans). The song appeared on their second album, Mayday (2013).
Below: "Little Sparrow" by Leyla McCalla, an American classical, folk, and Delta blues musician of Haitian heritage. The song appears on her fine solo album A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey (2016).
Above: "Cuckoo," a traditional British ballad performed by The Rheingans Sisters (Rowan and Anna Rheingans), from the Peak District. The song appeared on their second album Already Home (2019).
Below: "Cuckoo" is also part of the North American song tradition. This variant of the ballad is performed by Rising Appalachia (sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith), who draw inspiration from the folk, bluegrass, and blues of their native Georgia and the vibrantly multi-cultural music traditions of New Orleans.
From dawn to dusk, two final "bird songs" to end with:
Above: "Waiting for the Lark," a traditional song performed by folksinger and fiddle player Jackie Oates, from Staffordshire. The song appeared on her fifth solo album, Lullabies (2013).
Below: "Nest," written by Canadian folk, bluegrass, and blues musician Ruth Moody. The song appeared on her first solo album The Garden (2010).
...up in these wild skies...we'll greet the moonrise...when the day is spent....
The digital collages above are by Christian Schloe; all rights rserved by the artist. To see more of Schloe's work, go here.
For a post on the folklore of birds, go here.