Sarah Palermo | Composer | Songwriter | Music Theorist
Michigan birds and Italian birds

‚ÄčThis is going to start out sounding like a pretentious, ignorant blog post about how traveling changes your life and makes you a better person, but it's not, I promise.

During my first week in Italy this summer, we recorded various sounds around the village of Duino and make electronic compositions with them. I was struck by how many birds there were, and they were always chittering and chatting all day long. It was something, I thought, that I had never encountered before, and I was mesmerized.

Since I entered the world of electronic and electroacoustic music, I've found myself witnessing and interacting with sounds in a different way. I'm currently working on a fixed media piece using primarily the sounds of doors in my apartment, including basic opening and closing, squeaking hinges, door knobs rattling, and the mechanical whirrs of our electronic lock. Now every time I hear one of those sounds - when I open a door, or hear one of my roommates unlock our front door - no matter what I am doing, that creative part of my brain kicks in and I'm back in a composing state of mind. Just a few days ago, I was in the library headed to my usual study location when I heard a low, rumbly sort of electrical hum that I had not encountered before in that hallway. I stopped for probably 30-45 seconds, looking around to figure out where the sound was coming from. Was it the fluorescent lights? The tv monitor? Some other device behind the wall or in the ceiling? Before I could determine its origin, the sound stopped, and I was forced to resume my original trajectory.

So this morning, I went for a walk, and I felt I was back in Italy - I heard all the birds. They weren't the same birds from Duino, of course (I'm sure a linguist or an ornithologist could explain the differences to me), but they were all there, chattering and chittering to each other, fluttering around in the trees and on rooftops. They had always been there, but I hadn't been paying attention.

Today I went for a walk, and I listened to the vocalisms of birds mingled with the cars coming on and off the highway, people going to or coming home from work, going to school, walking their dogs.

Today I went for a walk, and a little bird pooped on me.


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