Introduced by Malachy Tallack
The relationship between birds and music is complex and deep-rooted. Mimesis, the imitation of the natural world, is fundamental to all creative expression – it is there at the very origins of human melody, and perhaps of language, too – and few sounds in nature can have been so imitated, and so inspirational, as birdsong.
Singer, musician and artist Hanna Tuulikki is creating an extraordinary work which explores this relationship through sound and performance. Away With the Birds | Air falbh leis na h-eòin began life as a piece of research, seeking out mimesis in Gaelic traditional songs. From there it has grown into something remarkable.
Away With the Birds is an incredibly ambitious project, created in collaboration with dancers, writers, ornithologists and others. And next year it will become a “sited performance and installation” on the Isle of Canna.
At the core of the work, though, is Tuulikki’s composition, Voice of the Bird |Guth an Eòin, which brings together extracts from traditional songs with her own vocal responses to the landscape and avian music of Scotland's islands. An extract from the piece, performed earlier this year in Glasgow, can be seen in the following video.
Hanna Tuulikki is taking music back to its roots. For her, mimesis is not just about imitation, it is about interaction; it is about being truly present, in time and place. With this moving and astonishing work, she is closing the distance between art and the natural world.
This is a short film introducing Away With the Birds | Air falbh leis na h-eòin.
Tuulikki's collaborators on Away With the Birds are: Suzy Glass, producer; Daniel Warren, film-maker; Deirdre Nelson, textile artist; Geoff Sample, field recordist / sound artist; Mary Smith, gaelic mentor; Rosalind Masson, choreographer; and vocalists Anna Sheard, Judith Williams, Julia Taudevin, Lucy Duncombe, Mairi Morrison, Mischa Macpherson, Nerea Bello and Nichola Scrutton.
Malachy Tallack is editor of The Island Review. www.malachytallack.com