Birds calling in Fortitude Valley : for piano
by Michael Hannan (2011)
Library shelf no. 786.2/HAN 27 [Not for loan]
In 2010 I wrote a piano piece called Birds Calling in Cloud
Valley. This work was inspired by a Chinese poem of the same
title and employed transcriptions of the calls of four birds
found in China. Later that year I was living in Brisbane in a
suburb called Fortitude Valley while doing research at the
Queensland University of Technology. Every morning at dawn and
for several hours after I heard pied butcherbirds calling. I
began to transcribe these calls and when I returned to my home in
Nimbin, I wrote a piano piece based on the six pages of
transcriptions I had made. In searching for a title I couldn't
resist Birds Calling in Fortitude Valley. For those who
know Fortitude Valley there is an extra layer of humour in the
One section of the piece is based on a melodic sequence of butcherbird calls which was entirely in the diminished scale (an eight-tone scale of alternating semitones and tones). As this was one of the scales used by the birdcall-obsessed composer Olivier Messiaen, I harmonised my transcriptions of these sequences using chord progression ideas that Messiaen derived from this scale.
The work is dedicated to my friends Jon and Laura Fitzgerald whose flat I was renting in Fortitude Valley while they holidayed in France and Ireland.
Dedication note: For Jon and Laura Fitzgerald
- Inspired by: Birdsong
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