Istanbul academics to transcribe nightingale songs into musical notes in first in Turkey
Assistant Professor Seyit Yöre told state-run Anadolu Agency on April 27 that they would study nightingale sounds in certain locations of Turkey, as part of the project called “The Harmony of Birds in Nature.”
The team has already started works in the first destination: Kızılırmak Delta Wetland and Bird Sanctuary in the northern province of Samsun, Turkey’s largest avian sanctuary. There are also various other places in Istanbul, the western provinces of Bursa and Kocaeli, and the small town of İğneada in the western Kırklareli province that accommodate singing nightingales
“We will record nightingale sounds during breeding times. This is the time when nightingales frequently make noises and effectively perform their music. We will derive the musical meanings of nightingale sounds and notate them, in work that will be conducted for the first time in Turkey,” said Yöre.
The project is being conducted together with Mehveş Mertcan, a graduate student of Istanbul’s musicology department, who is also a trained biologist.
For now, the scope of the project only covers nightingale sounds” but it will later be expanded, Yöre said.
“Once we unravel the musical structure and codes of nightingale sounds, we will be able to make sense of other birds’ melodies and the sounds they make more easily,” he added.
Mertcan said that what initiated the project was the idea that humans are not the only animals with a sense of rhythm and music, as these things also play an important role in the communication of other living creatures with each other.
“Nightingales can sing from morning until evening. It is a bird species that can be observed in every region of Turkey. We will analyze whether the communication between nightingales consists of repetition and imitation, whether the songs have a role other than being musical, and whether they are using music to lay claim to their areas or to call to each other,” she said.
Mertcan also noted that the period covering from April to end of June was when nightingales made their sounds most frequently. As a result, the project aims to complete its recordings during this period before compiling them later on.