Sound Noise Music Network: For Birds, Planes and Cello

by Stephen Fruitman, Sound Noise Music Network
Nov 7, 2005

You would have to look long and hard to find a CD whose contents are more accurately and honestly described by its title.

For this is indeed a recording consisting of birds, planes and cello. On March 15, 2004, in the company of recording engineer Marcos Fernandes, composer Miya Masaoka ventured out into the San Diego Canyon at half- past five in the morning to make a fifty-odd minute field recording of birds waking up and jet planes lifting from the local airpoirt.

As morning breaks and more and more birds can be heard (Masaoka claims the canyon is home to more the one hundred and fifty species of native and migratory birds), the lift-offs seem to grow more frequent, too, acting as a constant, though far from monotonous, drone underscoring the birdsong – incredibly varied and beautifully captured by Fernandes.

Masaoka then took the continuous, unedited field recording and bade Joan Jeanrenaud accompany it by improvising on her trusty cello. The instrument is rather ingeniously hidden a bit far down in the mix, a bit muffled, as if to suggest its organic belongingness, that despite the fact that it is being played by a virtuoso, it is no more “music” than the calls of
nature or of machine.

Achieves perfectly what it sets out to do. Lovely any time of day.