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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Avian Collaborators

Diane Moser plays along

You have to listen fairly closely to hear the birds, but chances are that no matter how closely you listen, you won’t do so with the fully committed simpatico of pianist Diane Moser.

That’s Moser on piano in the audio, responding to what she reports are a chipping sparrow and a black capped chickadee. The track is barely a minute long, but the give and take between human and avian collaborators is so charming, it’s the sort of thing you put on repeat and let the marvel of it erase whatever negative concerns you may have about humans and the environment. The percussive play of her piano, the little filigrees she emits, match the birds’ singing, not just in shape and key, but tonality and presence.

This isn’t a momentary flirtation for Moser, who posted a second track (“Dancin’ with Sparrows McD beginnings”) the same day. She’s released a whole album dedicated to the approach (Birdsongs, with Anton Denner and Ken Filiano). In describing the experience at a residency that led to Birdsongs, she wrote: “Every day I improvised with the birds outside my studio in the woods. I really just wanted to be a part of their ‘band,’ and was hoping I wasn’t too intrusive.” That temperament, that quality of listening, is a hallmark of her more recent bird play-alongs as well.

Track originally posted to soundcloud.com/diane-moser. More from Moser at dianemosermusic.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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