Ep. 4: Narrative of “The Alpine Chough”

Messiaen includes a written account of his birdsong collecting tour in the preface to each movement of the Catalog. Read as a quasi-ethnographic account of the ecology around him, the prefaces can also be interpreted as a type of narrative. This episode explores the place and birds of the first movement of the Catalog, followed by a union of Messiaen’s written account with a musical performance of “Le Chocard des Alpes” (The Alpine Chough). Guest: Mark Berres, ornithologist.

Transcript & Citations


Ep. 2: The Language of Birdsong

How does one translate sounds of the forest to the manuscript page, or even describe a natural sound in language? Do Messiaen’s transcriptions succeed? Guests: Mark Berres, ornithologist, and Steve Dembski, composer. Musical performance: “L’alouette Lulu” (Song of the Woodlark) from the Catalog.

Transcript & Citations