Tales from the Hidden Grove

Tales from the Hidden Grove
"Amongst the finest short story writers in the UK right now" ~ Black Pear Press

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Flautist of the Woods - Getting in tune with nature

In my current novel-in-progress, Cage of Nightingales (which is now in the editing stage - whoo!) Tammo  wants to be a bird charmer and to play his flute in the woods.  It's impossible to know what that would really be like without trying it for yourself.  The other week, I decided to record a simple flute tune I wrote as "Tammo's Song".  I was going to record it in the Early Music Shop, among the harpsichords and baroque recorders.  But after making a practice recording in the park under the trees, I decided that nothing was going to top that.  There's nothing quite the same as playing your flute in the open air, with the sound of birdsong and running water in your ears.  The music and the natural sounds around you somehow become connected.



Anyway, after trying that, I got the bug for playing my flute outdoors.  Actually, I have two flutes - a modern orchestral one, and the one I used for "Tammo's Song", which is a bamboo flute from Cameroon.  The great thing about the bamboo flute is that you can carry it anywhere.  You can stick it in your back pocket and not worry about harm coming to it.  You can whip it out and whistle up a quick tune whenever you feel like it.  Taking the flute for a walk in the woods made me feel just like Tammo.  I tried imitating birdsong - as he does in the story - and improvising tunes that seemed to put me in harmony with the wildlife around it.  I didn't feel that my playing was an intrusion on nature or noise pollution.  It truly felt like my music was part of the natural soundscape.  A wonderful feeling.




A day after this, I decided to get even closer to nature by sleeping in my garden.  No tent - just an air mattress and a blanket.  Strangely, it didn't feel too different from sleeping in bed (I live in a back-to-back house and the windows are often open all night).  But it was great to be there, to hear birds coming and going, and to have the entire dawn chorus playing above my head as I lay on my mattress.  Again, it's something you'll never really know until you've experienced it.  I'm glad I did.