Another guest blog. This time, artist and sound sculpturist Marcus Coates on his recent Brighton show exploring the interplay between bird song and people, now bound for London in 2016:

My Dawn Chorus exhibition at Fabrica in Brighton has come down now and it’s next showing at London's Wellcome Trust in 2016.

Dawn Chorus is a celebration of birdsong and how we are connected to it in ways that aren’t obvious to us.

In the exhibition you hear and see films of people singing the songs of birds very accurately.

Marcus Coates recording original bird song in the field for his Dawn Chorus show.

To show how this was done a choir performed the process live for an audience. While listening to slowed down birdsong through headphones they sang along to it. The noises they were copying were often difficult to replicate. They had to rethink how to sing, forgetting a scale of pure notes and instead exploring textures and sounds many of them hadn’t made with their voices before, like learning the sounds of a new language. 

There was also a familiarity with these slowed down birdsongs, not just in the way they sounded but the messages they carried. A simple contact call of a coal tit when slowed down became like a wailing howl, not dissimilar to the cry of the wolf, a contact call itself. The blue tit alarm call when slowed down similarly revealed a sound we all recognise as ‘keep away’, much like a fierce dog growling.

So next time you hear the birds in your garden, be aware that you are listening to the survival calls of the wild, the wolves are in the trees.