Oiseaux Naturels: LA River

Keith Kirchoff, Piano

Oiseaux Naturels: LA River (2019) for piano and fixed media electronics is based on the sounds of birds found in the Glendale Narrows section of the Los Angeles River. The title playfully references Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques, as the piece explores the sound of everyday birds of this natural oasis located in the middle of Los Angeles, including sparrows, finches, and geese. The piece consists of three sections, each focusing on a specific bird’s song, as well as a different perspective on the relationship between the river and the surrounding urban environment.

Oiseaux Naturels: LA River is the third piece in the composer’s Rhythmanalysis series that explores urban soundscapes. Henri Lefebvre developed the concept of Rhythmanalysis to analyze how the periodic sounds of urban spaces relate to the experience of a place. The electronic component of Oiseaux Naturels: LA River is based on audio recordings taken at the Glendale Narrows. This section of the river, just north of Downtown LA, has a soft bottom and is home to many different species of birds. The recorded bird songs are analyzed using sonographic analysis and music information retrieval (MIR) techniques to produce timing, amplitude, and frequency information. This data is mapped to rhythm and pitch, imparting the gestures and timing of the bird songs onto the piano part, which references Messiaen’s Catalogue d’oiseaux. Processed and unprocessed bird songs, as well as the sound of the environment, including airplanes, traffic, and water are also included. Oiseaux Naturels: LA River is based on the work of L.A. Listens (lalistens.org), a collective focused on urban sound co-founded by the composer.

Please contact the composer if you would like performance materials for this piece.

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