Musicians of All Styles Draw Inspiration From Birds

Listen to samba, instrumental, and jazz pieces modeled after penguins, meadowlarks, and more.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of The National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide. 


This is BirdNote!

Birds are an inspiration for many musicians. 

Bandleader Raymond Scott probably saw these birds at the Central Park Zoo before writing his waddling 1937 hit “The Penguin.”

All penguins are clumsy on land but these Gentoos are superlative swimmersthe fastest of any diving birdreaching 22 miles an hour, and diving to 600 feet. 

Speaking of swimmers, Brazilian composer Joao Gilberto has swans, geese and ducks doing the samba in his song “O Pato,” or “The Duck,” sung here by Karrin Allysson.  

Jazz musicians improvise on a theme, and Dave Brubeck, who grew up in the West, undoubtedly heard the Western Meadowlark before writing “Strange Meadowlark.” The tune appeared on Brubeck’s legendary 1959 release “Time Out.” 

For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.



Musical selections: Raymond Scott "The Penguin" The Music of Raymond Scott, Sony 1992; Karrin Allyson "O Pato" From Paris To Rio, Concord 1999; Dave Brubeck Quartet "Strange Meadowlark" Time Out, Sony 1959

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Gentoo Penguin [127117] recorded by G.F. Budney; Mallards [3430] recorded by A.A. Allen; song of Western Meadowlark [1375111] recorded by G. Vyn. 

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Written by John Kessler

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

Narrator: Mary McCann

© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org   July 2017/2019

ID# jazz-01-2013-07-11      jazz-01

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