Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Intertextual Orioles

Baltimore Oriole
This fragment, heard yesterday amidst construction noise at the parking lot of Redwing Bay.
Baltimore oriole song. In fact, a fragment of THE Baltimore oriole song that's haunted Redwing Bay for the past three years.
I don't know if it's the same bird, a son, reproductive partner, or a neighbor. All I know is that it is the dominant SONG of this place. In fact, for the last three years two different birds have consistently sung it.
 But it has not always been this way. When I started listening a few years ago this was the song you'd hear at Redwing Bay. And hear the next year, and the next year. Until it died out. Or was defeated. I was able to capture this song battle victory one year.
But I wasn't around when the song finally lost, displaced by our new one.

I use the theory term, "intertextual," seriously. While songs flow from individual birds, they are learned and shared in communities. And they become connected to places. So much so that each place where Baltimore orioles breed has its own distinct oriole song, or perhaps more accurately a collection of motivic fragments, like the one at the beginning of this post.

I sometimes imagine a world where people are so in tune with the birdscape that they identify themselves and the place they live with oriole song, whistling "their song" to other humans as a badge of community.

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