Podcast: Animals & Music

Why do hummingbirds hum? Because they forgot the words. Animals are a perennial musical inspiration, from Beethoven’s Pastorale to Mahler’s nostalgic cuckoos, from Saint-Saens Carnival of the Animals to Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, so birds and beasts are ever-present in Western music, and surely date back to the very origins of language, as the cro-magnans imitated the sounds of animals, and used their bones, skin, and horns to make their first instruments. So what’s the most musical part of a turkey? The drumstick.

Join Guy Livingston for a new episode of American Highways, all about musical animals, great and small. Music of Wendy Mae Chambers, Libby Larsen, George Antheil, and Raymond Scott.



Theme Music :
Steve Reich. The Desert Music (1984)
First Movement (Fast).
Chorus of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Members of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, Michael Tilson Thomas & William Carlos Williams.
Nonesuch Records 79101.

James Scott
Ragtime Oriole
Roger Sheilds, piano
VoxBox CD3X 3027

George Antheil
Serpent mécanique, arranged for piano six hands
Guy Livingston, Stéphane Leach, Philippe Keler: pianists.
Wergo 6762-2

Raymond Scott
Huckleberry Duck
Raymond Scott Ensemble
Columbia 53028

gospel traditional
I Know I’ve Been Changed
Dixie Hummingbirds
Body & Soul BS 2439

“We’re adding More Cowbell”
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper – parody
Blue Oyster Cult; with Will Ferrell, cowbell; Christopher Walken as the producer.
Saturday Night Live, April 8, 2000

Oran Etkin
Little Lamb Jam
Oran Etkin, with Charanee Wade
Putumayo 229-2

George and Ira Gershwin
Little Jazz Bird
Lady Be Good Cast ensemble
Graalgember Records 2012

William Bolcom
A 60-second Ballet (for chickens)
Guy Livingston, piano
Wergo 6649-2

Libby Larson
Black Birds, Red Hills: Pedernal Hills
Libby Larson, piano; Caroline Hartig, clarinet
Innova Recordings/American Composer Forum ACF 002

Wendy Mae Chambers
12 squared
1. The Barons (3:44)
2. Dance (5:06)
3. Hoodoo Root Doctor (4:52)
4. Snake Dancer (3:19)
5. Snake of Deep Waters (4:02)
Michael Pugliese, Randy Crafton, Jason Cirker, Charles Kiger, Andy Bowman, Kory Grossman, Mark Belair, Dan McMillan, Frank Cassara, David Cossin, Jimmy Musto, Dominic Donato, percussion; Howard Van Hyning, conductor.
NWR 80526-2

John Coltrane
The Inchworm
John Coltrane
Music Club International Records MCCD 572



Animal Music Links:

buy the tarot cards of Sallie Anne Glassman

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