it is well known that the whip-poor-will's lonesome three note call actually contains at least six distinct notes, usually not heard by the human ear

oh

the systematic study of birdsong really began with the discovery of recording equipment and has followed the development of audio technologies since. the transcriptions by john clare of nightingale song, or the immersive work of messiaen are based, as they recognised, on very simplified versions even of what they could hear. the microtones, for instance, messiaen pointed out, are too close to be readily reproduced on traditional instruments. above all, the *speed* of song makes capture and recall difficult

the invention of the sonograph, designed for recognising distinctive audio patterns produced by enemy submarines, made it possible to generate visual logs of song, which could then be analysed and compared. patterns could be seen, representing motifs, revealing details hitherto impossible to perceive

slowing down playback makes this material actually audible for the first time. in the case of fast, trill like song such as by the wren, slow motion reveals a performance of startling variety and complexity

of course, as a by product of these simple operations, you find you are dealing more and more with deeper and slower sounds. the brilliance of a bird singing on a high perch comes gradually to be replaced by a submerged quality

indeed, birds are strange: their strangeness if anything comes closer, in these audios, slowed, as it feels, to a point of collapse


Im going away where the whip-poor-wills stay, World Standard tells us, in the famous lost lyrics of HW