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Options March 13, 2012: Other Minds: Turkey Song


“Turkey Song” is a form of inter-species music, a joint communication between three human beings and three hundred tom (male) turkeys. The tape that you hear is an edited version of over five hours of tapes recorded at the Willy Bird Turkey Farm in the hills outside of Santa Rosa. The producer of this piece, Jim Nollman, has been experimenting with musical communication with various animals for many years. Besides turkeys, he has found that the bobwhite, the kangaroo rat, hummingbird, and the bullfrog all respond in definite patterns to certain types of human and instrumental sounds. But of all the animals, the most obviously receptive creature to audio stimulus is the turkey. Turkeys respond with a precise rhythmic gobble to any pitch above a certain register. The pitch is relative and is dependent upon the environmental noise already present. It thus becomes possible to devise extremely precise melodic and rhythmic patterns, and by accenting one note of the pattern by its loudness of pitch the turkey will always respond in time. We gather together to ask the lords blessing. A tape piece created for the express purpose of accompanying your Thanksgiving Dinner. Its instrumentation includes wooden and clay flutes improvising with a flock of turkeys. Thanks to Willy Bird Farms in Petaluma. (November 28, 1974)


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