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RSPB host panel event in run-up to release of birdsong single 'Let Nature Sing'

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The UK bird population has decreased by 40 million since 1966 and 165 species are critically endangered. With statistics like these in mind, the RSPB aims to restore and create habitat for wildlife, save species that are at risk and inspire people to care about nature. In their most recent project, #LetNatureSing, the RSPB strives to reconnect people with the once familiar sounds of birdsong through collaborating with various musicians.

Pictured left to right, singer Sam Lee, Chrisie Rhodes of The Shires and Adrian Thomas courtesy of the RSPB.

A new single to be released on 2nd May is the first piece of music comprised purely of birdsong. The track contains the sounds of 25 birdcalls from endangered species including the swift, bittern, and nightingale.

Adrian Thomas, a member of the RSPB team, was responsible for the recordings of each birdsong. He explains that because the UK has lost so many of each species, among noise pollution, it was quite the challenge to encapsulate the beautiful sounds of each bird. During the "first listen" event on Monday, Thomas explains how these birdcalls used to be inherent in our being in the past, and how we have largely lost our ability to recognise and read each birdcall:

"Go back maybe 100 years and people would have recognised almost all of those. Those birds would’ve been so much more prevalent across our landscape. They would’ve signalled changes in the season, changes in the weather; people would've understood something from hearing it".

Also on the panel of the release event is Sam Lee. The folk musician poetically describes how the birds "compose themselves", with each birdcall featuring as either a soloist or a member of each orchestral section, be it brass, woodwind, strings or percussion. As one of the track editors, Lee explained the process as a kind of orchestration, allowing the birds to go in the direction they needed to be themselves, adding, "We shouldn’t be controlling or defining it. We should be letting it do what it needs to do".

The single itself represents a musical conversation between various bird species in the UK, across a multitude of landscapes. In the words of Sam Lee at the launch event, the track is an opportunity to "hear the birds at their most ceremonial and romantic". 

As well as from the beauty of each birdsong, nature has been linked on many occasions to serenity and mindfulness. Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, also on the event panel, described how times of recording in the countryside inspired much of his compositions. The guitarist reminisced to the time of recording the album OK Computer in the countryside near Bath. He explains that his fondest memories during recording were of his experiences of the environment and how this managed to resonate in the music. O'Brien states that even if you don’t notice the birdsong, it is always there, and consistently manages to elevate mood.

Nic Scothern, RSPB Regional director of South East, supports this, adding that "we are part of nature. Now our brains are still fixed in this point in time, but our existence now is essentially urbanised and starved of a lot of nature. Our bodies don’t physiologically know how to deal with that". From Scothern's point of view, our biodiversity is not the only factor at risk, but also the physical and mental health of humanity. 

The UK is one of the most nature-deprived countries in the world. For this reason, it’s extremely important that we raise awareness, and allow ourselves to become familiar with nature once again. Hopefully, with the power of music, we can start to make this happen. Let us not allow birdsong to fall silent.  

'Let Nature Sing' by the RSPB will be released on 2nd May. You can pre-order the single here and visit the campaign website for more information or by following the hashtag #letnaturesing 




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