A communication with nature

I grew up in Hazleton, Pa., a small city that was once surrounded by wilderness.  This was convenient for us as children to go hiking in the woods.  Being away from the city and in the woods with the fresh and fragrant air, and the only noise being the sound of trees rustling in the wind, animals rustling in the brush, babbling brooks, frogs croaking, birds chirping, and the occasional whine of a black bear, brought a sense of peace within my soul.  Ok, maybe not the black bear, but everything else.  At the time, I wasn't sure exactly what it was that brought this sense of peace.  I only knew I belonged there.  One of my favorite places to hang out was the reservoir in Stockton, just outside of Hazleton.  I would sometimes go there with friends, build a campfire, sit on the rocks and play my guitar.


One day I had a date with a beautiful red haired girl who also liked to sing and play guitar.  I took her to the reservoir.  Okay, I know you are waiting for the hot steamy details, but this is the way it went:


We built a campfire even though it was daylight, sat on the rocks, and I played my guitar and sang a few songs.  In the middle of my first song I noticed that the frogs and birds were croaking and chirping to a rhythm that matched the rhythm of what I was playing.  I was so engrossed in the song that I almost missed what was happening.  Once I realized what was going on I thought it was just coincidence.  I went into my next song, and this time I observed early on that these animals were actually matching my rhythm and creating their own grooves that worked with what I was doing.  Listening more carefully, I also began to notice that the pitches of their sounds were also in the scale of the key of the song I was playing.  Everything was working together.  It was like I had my own back up band.  I asked the girl that I was with if she noticed what was happening, and she said yes.  My first thoughts were "That was pretty cool, but was it just the product of an over-active imagination for both of us?"  I blew it off as having been an overactive imagination.  I didn't bother to mention it to anyone "normal" because they would have thought I was crazy.


In the summer of 2013, I was at a 2-man jam session with Dean Paul at his home in Baltimore.  It was in a quiet area of the suburbs with big lawns and lots of trees.  He played guitar and sang while I played the djembe (an African percussion instrument similar to a conga).  His air conditioning wasn't working at the time, so he had all of the windows open.  It was mid day, and the only hustle and bustle was from the squirrels and chipmunks running up and down trees and across the lawn.  Birds were out in full force and the air was filled with the sound of nature's own symphony.  We began to play. About midway through the first song, we both noticed that the birds were singing both pitches and rhythms that matched what we were doing.  Again, I thought it was my over-active imagination, but when I asked Dean if he noticed it, he said he did.


In February of 2015 I had moved back to the Baltimore area (my birthplace), to the burrough of Essex, which is a quiet suburban area near the Chesapeake Bay with lots of trees.  When the weather began to warm up in May, I was recording some reference tracks of a new song I wrote.  It was getting warm in my room, so I opened the window.  It was mid-day and I could hear the birds chirping just outside my window.  Normally I would be concerned that the noise would interfere with my recording, but since it was just a reference track it didn't matter if the sound of a few birds made their way onto my recording.  I began to record, and once again noticed that the birds were jamming with me.  Both their pitches and rhythms matched exactly what I was doing.


I played back the recording to see if it was for real or just my imagination, and sure enough, the recording verified my assumption.  I wanted to see if this was coincidence, so I decided to conduct an experiment.  I would record a few minutes of birds by themselves without playing any music, then align that track with the music track that was recorded without any birds, and play them both together to see if they matched.  They didn't!  Without the sound of the music I was creating, the birds had no reference point and were chirping randomly, or possibly to their own symphonic creation.  I now had two tracks of birds to compare.  One was recorded while they could hear the music to my song, and their pitches and rhythms matched what I was doing like they were jamming with me.  The other was recorded without them hearing the music and it didn't match anything when played back with the music.  That's when I knew I was onto something.......birds communicate through music.  It's how they speak to each other.  It's how they speak to you.  It's how you speak to them. 


I later discovered that music is found everywhere in nature.  I go into some detail about how everything is made up of different musical frequencies (pitch and rhythm) in an earlier blog post titled "Everything is music, and in a later post I will describe how I discovered how to surf the wave of the environment and stay in phase with it. Music is a communion with nature.


If you can get to an area where there are lots of birds, bring your guitar or CD player or IPad and play some music and listen to how the birds respond to that music.  I would like to hear some of your observations, so feel free to come back to this post and comment.

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