A Beginner's Guide to Attracting Birds

Alvin Curran
A tone-poem for radio that draws on a number of never used sounds from the composer's archives, as well as newly recorded materials such as the magical singing tones of high-tension wires in the wind, and the elusive musical hums of the Bay of La Speza (Italy). These sounds are as much about acoustic spaces as they are about geographical ones, and while all vastly different, are powerful sources of natural melody, rhythm, and harmony. Above all they are sounds that suggest the presence of "voices," human, ghostly or otherwise. The definitive character of A Beginner's Guide to Attracting Birds is given by the gradual and continuous digital transformation of these sounds into those of human voices. The work culminates in the slow emergence of John Cage's voice, based on fragmented samples of his Charles Eliot Norton Lectures at Harvard (1988-89). Commissioned by New American Radio.