Birds on Wires Inspire Composer

Agnelli made music from an image of birds. (Image: via YouTube / Screenshot)

For an artist, inspiration can strike from anywhere. Jarbas Agnelli, a musician from San Paulo, Brazil, got his inspiration from an image of a few birds on wires that led to the creation of a very unique piece of music.

Music inspired by birds on wires

“Reading the newspaper one morning, I saw this picture of birds on the electric wires… I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes. I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating,” Agnelli says in the YouTube description of his song.  

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Once he finished recording the music, Agnelli sent it to the photographer who took the picture of the birds. The photographer, Paulo Pinto, apparently liked it so much that he told the editor of the paper about it. As a result, the story ended up getting featured in the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, making Agnelli quite famous.

The music went on to be the winner of the YouTube Play Guggenheim Biennial Festival 2010. The fact that Agnelli ended up creating music from the position of the birds on wires is admirable. Most people would have rubbished such thoughts if they had crossed their minds. But what is even more surprising is the fact that the music actually turned out to be harmonious! This lends credence to the idea that musical vibrations might form a fundamental aspect of nature.

“Whenever I feel like everything’s so wrong about this dark, cruel world, it’s things like these — bouts of human creativity — that reminds me that life is worth living,” says a YouTube comment. The video has gained over 2.5 million views and 16,000 likes on the channel.

Music and animals

Several research studies have shown that music has a deep effect on all creatures. In 2015, a group of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison did a study on cats and music. Though the cats were found to ignore human-specific music, they “showed a significant preference for and interest in species-appropriate music compared with human music… Younger and older cats were more responsive to cat music than middle-aged acts,” according to an abstract of the study.

Just like birds on wires, cats love cat-specific music.
Cats love cat-specific music. (Image: via Max Pixel)

The researchers created two cat-specific songs. While one was based on the tempo of a cat purring, the other song was based on a cat’s suckling sound. When the cat-specific music was played, the creatures started walking toward the speakers and began rubbing their backs against them.

Another study looked at how music affected mosquitoes. The team played intense electronic music in the presence of these insects. “Females exposed to music attacked hosts much later than their non-exposed peers. The occurrence of blood-feeding activity was lower when music was being played. Adults exposed to music copulated far less often than their counterparts kept in an environment where there was no music,” says the study.

Back in 2001, the University of Leicester did a similar music study on cows. They exposed 1,000 of these bovines to the music of differing tempos. The music was categorized into two groups. The first group featured music that was under 100 beats per minute while the second one had music with over 120 beats per minute. The researchers noted that cows preferred the gentler music. As a bonus, their milk yield rose by 3 percent. 

Cows that heard slower music produced more milk. (Image: JACKLOU-DL via  Pixabay)

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