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for percussion ensemble, poetry, and avian ecoacoustics duration = c. 33’



* 24 plastic egg rattles
* 4 small electric fans with front grill removed
* 8 stiff feathers
* 2 large concert bass drums
* 4 guiros
* 4 snare drums
* 6 ocarinas
* 4 vibraslaps
* 4 flexatones
* 4 cabasa
* keyboard percussion instruments as available:

marimbas, vibraphones, glockenspiels, etc. suggested:

2 marimba (one five-octave) 2 vibraphone
2 glockenspiel

* voice percussion and spoken word
* two channel concert sound with subwoofer
* third channel, smaller speaker center front stage (the third channel is used for special spatial effects and small, localized sounds)


In eight movements:

1) Songscape Anthrophony
for egg rattles, dawn bird chorus, distorted birdsong, and bass drums 4:00

2) Aeolian Poetics
for poetry, vocal percussion, feathers, fans, ocarinas, and bass drums 4:30

3) Avian Telemetry
for snare drums, keyboard percussion and electronics 3:30

4) Transliteration 1: Song Thrush
for poetry, data sonification and flexatones 3:00

5) Transliteration 2: Ecologies of Sound in Nature Cultures for sonifications, keyboard percussion and guiros

a) Biophony (24 hours in Summer & Winter)

b) Anthrophony (24 hours in Summer & Winter)
6:00 c) Biophony + Anthrophony (24 hours in Summer & Winter)

6) Transliteration 3: Skylark
for percussion, poetry and processed field recordings 3:45

7) Transliteration 4: Landrail
for poetry, guiros, cabasas, vibraslaps 2:00

8) Birds: Why Are Ye Silent?
for poetry, percussion, and airplane field recording 6:00


Avian Telemetry (2018) was commissioned by the Shi Center for Sustainability for the Furman Percussion Ensemble as part of a birdsong collaboration with John Quinn (biology), Michele Speitz (English literature) and Omar Carmenates (percussion). The musical composition brings together current research on avian biology, soundscape ecology, romantic-period British poetry, ecoacoustic music, and avant-garde percussion performance. The piece uses various forms of measurement procedures and transliteration devices to explore human-nature interaction through a focus on birdsong. These “telemetries” include field recordings, musical transcriptions of environmental sound, sonifications of scientific data about bird habitat and behavior, and readings of romantic poetry employing mimesis of birdsong. Further, the piece employs second order transliterations, treating each of these modes of telemetry as a source for further remapping. For example, a snare drum quartet plays the iambic pentameter rhythm transcribed from a Charlotte Smith poem about a nightingale, and a keyboard percussion instrument performs a melody mapped onto a sonification of biophonic data while an ensemble of guiros accompanies a sonification of anthropomorphic data. The result is a highly idiosyncratic and varied blend of human mappings of birdsong, covering a wide range of fields and time periods. In this way the musical composition brings diverse disciplines into counterpoint through live percussion performance on stage, creating an evocative space for the contemplation of avian habitat and conservation through music.


The work premiered at the International Renaissance Conference in Greensville, South Carolina in 2018 and was subsequently performed at the PASIC percussion conference in 2018. The piece was recorded for release in 2020 and published as an album by Parma Recordings and as a music video by Four/Ten Media.


The materials here include the full score and the electronic parts for a stereo version performance. If the 3-channel version is prefered, contact Matthew Burtner to receive the alternate version of the electronics.

Avian Telemetry (2018)

  • Performance materials include a PDF score and an electronic track. 

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