Cross-Pollination of Music and Insects

Chris Watson

Image from the Guardian

We have heard of music performed on vegetables, and in ice and played on car parts and bicycle parts.

Now, as part of Pestival, a weekend festival celebrating insects in art, and the art of being an insect, we've got a concert of experimental music inspired by insects.


Image from cd universe

The concert will be masterminded by a wildlife sound recordist, Chris Watson. He is a highly regarded wildlife recording artist specialising in animals, habitats and atmospheres, has worked with David Attenborough and has an album Weather Report. The concert pieces will be a unique and very experimental mixture of different insect sounds: japanese cricket sounds, bee recordings, human voices making natural sounds and crickets in a duet with humans.

The composer Marcus Davis was commissioned to listen to bee recordings for the choral parts. He was astonished to find that ""The bees are full of music. They 'sing' diatonic notes... For each mood they have a different set of what I call tune clusters - different songs and little chords." His Bee Choir will be performing The Bee Symphony.

According to another music maker, bees are aware of hazards to their safety, shown by changes in pitch. He noticed that "About 10 seconds before a friend got stung, they'd all be singing different notes, but then it's as if they've taken a decision: 'Right, we've been invaded enough.' And then they go back to a unison A. You hear a distinct change."


The japanese cricket sounds are part of an old tradition, going back to China and Kyoto Japan where they had little cages for crickets which were hung up in rooms to make music. Some monks called it the voice of the Buddha.

Another one of the pieces will be a mixing of Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebees. Six different versions will be turned into something new. As part of the piece, some music from 1916 will be incorporated, as well as recordings of a death watch beetle.

The music is supposed to take us back to nature and its rhythms and make listeners remember how we are part of a natural cycle. : Pestival

Cross-Pollination of Music and Insects
We have heard of music performed on vegetables, and in ice and played on car parts and bicycle parts.

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