Formed By Him – Music Making Birds

Do Birds Truly Make Music? (from Creation Moments)

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. (Song of Solomon 2:12)

The Bible speaks of bird calls as songs, as most of us do. However, evolutionary theory has led some scientists to say that we are merely assigning human meanings to the calls of birds. They say that the bird calls have nothing to do with real music.

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) by Ian

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) by Ian

Ornithologists have known for some time that bird songs use the same musical scales as our music. Decades ago it was noted that some of Beethoven’s work could be heard from the European blackbird. The music was the same as the opening rondo of Beethoven’s “Violin Concert in D, Opus 61.” Since these birds pass their songs from generation to generation, Beethoven could have gotten the lilting music from the forefathers of today’s European blackbird!

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) by Quy Tran

Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) by Quy Tran

The songs of some species, like the song sparrow, follow the form of a sonata, beginning with a strong theme, then the theme is musically played with, and for a finish, the original theme is then repeated. Mozart had a starling as a pet. Once, having heard Mozart play his “Piano Concerto in C Major,” the starling not only imitated it, but changed the sharps to flats! Mozart exclaimed, “That was beautiful!” When the starling died, Mozart held an elaborate funeral for it. Eight days later he wrote, “A Musical Joke” which contains the same elaborate structure found in starling song.

Do birds make true music, as the Bible says? Contrary to what some evolutionists say, Beethoven and Mozart certainly thought they did.
Lord, I thank You for the gift of music and I await the music of heaven. Amen.
Science News, 4/15/00, pp. 252-254, “Music without Borders.”

©2010 Creation Moments

Lee’s Addition:

From – A Musical Joke?

“Mozart was not alone in incorporating bird sounds in music. According to Baptista:

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) by Ian

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) by Ian

  • In Beethoven’s sixth symphony, the song of a Yellowhammer is followed by those of a quail, then a cuckoo.
American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) on Thistle by Fenton

American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) on Thistle by Fenton

  • A Goldfinch inspired Vivaldi’s flute concerto “Il gardellino.”
  • Bela Bartok’s third piano concerto was inspired by birds in North Carolina, where Bartok was living during the composition.

Blue-eyed Cockatoo (Cacatua ophthalmica) ©Wikipedia

  • The Cuckoo, BTW, is the most popular bird in Western music, said Baptista, and even appears in a Johann Sebastian Bach fugue — in counterpoint with a chicken!
Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) by Judd Patterson

Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) by Judd Patterson

  • The Canyon Wren in the Ansaborego desert of California sounds so much like Chopin that you could consider it “a student of Chopin,” Baptista said.

The rest of the avian orchestra
Beyond that two-part voice box, birds also use their bodies to make sound in other ways. Some even make instruments!

Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) by Ian

Palm Cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) by Ian Montgomery

  • While courting, the Palm Pockatoo, for example, breaks a branch, carves it into a drumstick, and bangs a hollow log as a signal to females that he’s on the prowl. Providentially, he stores the stick to use it again, said Baptista.
  • The European Snipe, on the other hand, dives to force wind through its feathers, which act as reeds.
Williamson's Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyroideus) by Judd Patterson

Williamson’s Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus thyroideus) by Judd Patterson

  • Williamson’s Sapsucker in the Sierra Nevada drums on tree trunks in specific rhythms that vary in what Baptista called “local dialects.”

The Lord has created beautiful birds and has given each their own songs and sounds. Many have listened and learned from those sounds. As you have read above, some have turned those lessons learned into beautiful music.

But now ask the beasts, and they will teach you; And the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Or speak to the earth, and it will teach you; And the fish of the sea will explain to you. Who among all these does not know That the hand of the LORD has done this, In whose hand is the life of every living thing, And the breath of all mankind? (Job 12:7-10 NKJV)

He sends the springs into the valleys; They flow among the hills. They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst. By them the birds of the heavens have their home; They sing among the branches. (Psalms 104:10-12 NKJV)

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) by Ray

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) by Ray

The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart greatly rejoices, And with my song I will praise Him. (Psalms 28:7 NKJV)

Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods. (Psalms 96:1-4 NKJV)

See Also:

See Mozart ‘borrowed tunes from his versatile starling’

More Formed By Him articles

Wordless Birds


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