Georg Jappe

Mit Tausend Zungen/Speaking in Tongues: Ornithopoem

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Georg Jappe and Martin Leitner recorded seven species of the Old World Warbler, a songbird of the subfamily Sylviinae. On the verge of extinction, these birds can be heard in the reed beds surrounding Lake Neusiedl in Austria. For over ten years, the sound artists and bird lovers amassed tapes and put together Mit Tausend Zungen (Speaking in Tongues), which they call an "ornithopoem." The CD is split into three sections. First is a series of short pieces presenting six of the seven species. Then comes a reading from a short text (in German), followed by "Der Erste Unter den Sängern: Pfingstkönig" (The First of the Singers: Marsh Warbler, the Whitsun King). The Marsh Warbler is an astonishing singer indeed. His range, vocabulary, and playful art are beautifully exemplified in this nine-minute recording. Afterwards, situational recordings alternate with archival recordings of people talking in various languages about conservation of the environment. The highlight of this section is "Wettstreit," a spellbinding singing contest between two warblers. All recordings (except those of the human voice) were done in situ, in a location unspoiled by human life, and the background noise is full of other birds and wildlife in general. There are absolutely no music or effects added -- these are pure environmental recordings. The sound quality is very good and the whole thing has been carefully edited and put together. Notes in German and English explain the context of the recording and the warbler's singing. Recommended for bird lovers. Whether you understand German or not is of little importance.

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