Starlings Song and Mozart

more bird song...a quote from open ended group...

"The starling’s song is at the very limit of human comprehension.

So concludes Peter Marler, a leading authority on the science of birdsong. If he’s right, then the starling’s song would call for a supreme musical intelligence to grasp it.

For the starling not only sings at fast speeds and at high registers, but it also improvises constantly while mimicking the world all around. Listen closely and you may hear it busily interweaving fragments of other birds’ songs and snatches of human speech — as well as a teakettle whistling, a doorbell ringing, a neighbor sneezing…

Now it so happens that in 1784 Mozart acquired a starling of his own, which he cherished until it died three years later — a death he observed with a full funeral service and a poem he wrote for the occasion. One week later, he completed a composition that may have been his musical mimicry of the starling’s song (“A Musical Joke” k 522).

Mozart’s attraction to the starling must have been immediate, for on entering the pet store he’d been startled to find it singing a theme seemingly snatched from one of his own piano concerti (k 453), with just one note altered (gg#)."

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