A Beginner's Guide to Attracting Birds

1995, 27:30 min.
Alvin Curran

In this piece commissioned by New American Radio in 1995, Alvin Curran created a work that pays tribute to birds, John Cage, and “The Bird'' himself, Charlie Parker. Live mixing 26 tracks of recordings, the piece draws from a 30-year collection of his birdsong field recordings, a conversation between artist Maryanne Amacher and a parrot named Clifford, a recording of John Cage’s lectures at Harvard, Charlie Parker records, field recordings of a computer room at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk in Cologne, the wind blowing through high-tension wires, and the Bay of La Speza in Italy, as well as MAX manipulations of those recordings. Curran describes the recordings as placed in a “swirling, multi-purpose aviary,” and includes recordings of loons, sandhill cranes, hopoes, starlings, and prairie chickens among other birds. The work’s title comes from Leon Hausman’s 1962 book describing both bird calls and plans for bird baths and feeders.  - Described Wave Farm Radio Artist Fellow 2020/2021, Jess Speer.