Composers' appropriation of pied butcherbird song: Henry Tate's 'undersong of Australia' comes of age

Music Council of Australia
Publication Type:
Journal Article
The Journal of Music Research Online, 2011, 2 pp. 1 - 28
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This article surveys the range of strategies employed by composers who make overt reference to birdsong as a model, with a particular focus on the pied butcherbird. The species plays a conspicuous role in the appropriation of Australian birdsong by composers, as first proposed by Henry Tate in the early twentieth century. The interrogation of birdsong also has currency in analytical practice, provoking issues such as musical universals and the role of transcription and analysis in composition. In human compositional design, pied butcherbirds protean vocalisations are well represented as the source in a myriad of arenas. Tates vision of composers tapping into Australias birdsong resources is materialising.
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