A cultural history of birdsong from poetry and music, to bird anatomy and the acoustics of landscape and a passionate call to arms to end the decline in songbird numbers.

Richard is a regular contributor to Bird Watching magazine, and reached the final of Mastermind with a specialist subject of British birds.

“This book isn’t just about birdsong; it’s about the places where birdsong and human culture overlap, and interact … There’s a gap, I think, between the noises the birds are making and the songs we’re hearing. Birdsong belongs to the birds, but we’ve spent an awful lot of time trying to make it ours, too: we’ve translated it into poetry and crowbarred it into music; we’ve caged it and recorded it, copied it and studied it. We’ve transformed the way we hear it; we’ve even changed the way they sing it (and if we go on as we are we may end up silencing it – but that’s something for the last chapter). In a thousand different ways, birdsong has inspired us.” Richard Smyth

In this fascinating account, Richard Smyth asks what it is about birdsong that we so love. Exploring the myriad ways in which it has influenced literature, music, science and our very ideas of what it means to be British, Smyth’s nuanced investigation shows that what we hear says as much about ourselves, as it does about the birds and their songs.  Answering such questions as how and why birds produce their sound, how the music of birds is tied up with landscape and literature, and how human recklessness threatens to silence our native birds for good, A Sweet, Wild Note is the first cultural history of one of our nation’s enduring pleasures: birdsong.

At a time when our birdsong is growing quieter, with fewer voices, more thinly spread, this beautiful book is a celebration of the complex relationships between birds, people and landscape; it is also a passionate call to arms and an invitation to act lest our trees and hedgerows fall silent.

Followed by the opportunity to purchase and have signed Richard’s publications.



Date(s) - 18/08/2017
4:15 pm - 4:45 pm

Authors Forum