Absolute bird

Hollis Taylor (Composer)

Research output: Non-traditional research outputDigital or Visual products


Double CD set and 48-page booklet.

Absolute Bird (ReR HT1) summons us into the sound world of another species. The pied butcherbird is scarcely known outside Australia despite assertions that this is one of the world’s most gifted songbirds. The two CDs pocketed in this 48-page hardcover book set out to change this, with performances from some of Australia’s finest musicians (including The Song Company and recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey). Works for vibraphone, flute, bass clarinet, string quartet, solo violin, acoustic bass, and bassoon complete the 41 tracks. Most are accompanied by Hollis Taylor’s field recordings. In turns exquisite and quirky, they feature birds, insects, frogs, toads, and dingoes, as well as outback fences, livestock auctioneers, and horses warming up at a racecourse.
Taylor makes no attempt to romanticize nature. One track draws from traffic sounds—trucks passing, horns honking, a car trundling across an old wooden bridge. Her intent is instead to underline compelling aspects of the remote places where she records birds for four months every year, and to spark new ways to mediate human-animal relationships.
Since birdsong drives her compositional decisions, many of these pieces are almost direct transcriptions. ‘I came to realize that birds spend much more time with their motifs than I do’, muses Taylor. ‘I learned to trust the material—to trust the birds’. No two birds sing the same phrases, and solo songs change annually, making for a bounty of material from these feathered choristers.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherReR Records
EditionReR HT1
Media of outputCD
Size2 hours 12 minutes
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • birdsong


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