SQUAWK AND ROLL

According to alert Cuteporter Janet K., Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, created an art installation in London. It’s a walk-though aviary for a flock of zebra finches, furnished with electric guitars and other musical instruments:

As the birds go about their routine activities, perching on or feeding from the various pieces of equipment, they create a captivating, live soundscape. Rawk!

Comments

  1. WOW, one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen.

  2. earlybird1 says:

    FREEBIRRRRD!

  3. Even the pond is shaped like a guitar!

    Wonder if the birdies ever figure out that their actions are somehow tied to the sounds….. {pondering head tilt}
    ;-)

  4. I’m surprised the noise doesn’t scare them off!

    I love the bird who’s all like: these strings would make excellent nesting material! But since they seem to be tied down, I guess I’ll have to build my nest where they are….

  5. @Sher

    It would be interesting to note. I’m surprised at the comments on the Youtube site about the animals being abused. It’s almost verging into philosophy.

    [Never overestimate the quality of YouTube comments. Just don't. - Ed.]

  6. absolutely spectacular!

  7. OMG I laughed til I cried. That is totally frickin awesome

  8. Birdcage says:

    Hmm.

  9. marthava says:

    Rawk on, Little Rawkers, RAWK ON!!!

  10. Wow! :shock:

  11. loff eet!
    I’d listen to that.

  12. Catsquatch says:

    LOVE the nest building guitar riff!
    Put that little guy in a ROCK BAND MAN!!!

  13. I AM SO BUILDING ONE OF THOSE FOR MY BUDGIES WHEN I GET BACK INTO THE COUNTRY!!!

    @Katie, nah, little birdies LOVE noise, once they realize that new sounds aren’t a sign of danger! Mine actually sing louder and seem much happier whenever I’m practicing or playing with my band or have guests over, even though they’re right in the middle of the whole mess! ^_^. (Actually, Howl harmonizes. It’s kind of the creepiest thing I’ve ever heard. I need to record this next time I’m home.)

  14. Holding my flaming Bic above my head !
    Those are some pretty rad licks from the guy with that unusual shaped pick !
    (a.k.a. stick)

  15. BStrange says:

    That is really interesting… The birds didn’t look very concerned about the odd noises, did they!

  16. Fluidstatic says:

    That’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen/heard. Soothing, intriguing, fascinating. I would LOVE to see this in person.

  17. Cheryl Robinson-Atwood says:

    That birdie trying to build a twiggy nest in that guitar? This is his cover of “Gimmie Shelter”. (Yea, well, he ain’t no Keith Richards, but the robins think he’s rockin’)!

  18. @Sher Zebra finches aren’t the brightest of avians, but they’re reasonably smart; there’s a possibility they might work it out. Although I suppose there is SO much noise going on that they won’t make the link.

    I don’t normally like modern art, but this is cute and kinda tuneful… too bad I live the other end of the country :(

  19. Once A Fish says:

    What’s funny is that they sound exactly like Neil Young’s music from Jim Jarmusch’s “Dead Man”.

    “That’s mad dissonance there, man– MAD dissonance!”

  20. Mary (the first) says:

    That’s really cool! And I think the little finches are adorable even without music! I’m continually amazed by the things people think up (like this) that would NEVER occur to me. WONDERFUL things!

  21. Not That Mike The Other Mike says:

    This seems appropriate at this time (turn speakers to 11, please):

  22. The one trying to build the nest SO reminds me of Daffy Duck in Ali Baba Bunny when he and Bugs pop up in Ali Baba’s treasure cave after missing that left turn at Albuquerque: “It’s MINE! You understand?! Mine! All mine!. Get back in there! Down! down! down! go! Go! go! Mine! Mine! Mine!”

  23. /devil-horns handsign

  24. A. Non Ymous says:

    I should sell my guitar. A finch with a twig is better than I could ever be.

    In other news, is it possible that the finches don’t hear the music, but the people do?

  25. Cornnutt says:

    Rock out with your squawk out.

    [Duuuuuude. 8) - Ed.]

  26. 260Oakley says:

    It’s the Beak Boys gone to seed. I hope they play Little Deuce Coop.

    [Or it might be The Trashmen... - Ed.]

  27. Pick a little, squawk a little, pick a little, squawk a little. Cheep cheep cheep squawk a lot, pick a little more…

    [Good night Katie, good night Katie, good night Katie, I'm going to post this now - Ed.]

  28. “Captivating” is a bit of a stretch. But the birdie twig-riff was great!! And I love how they all look like they’re wearing KISS makeup … :)

  29. That finchey with the stick was SHREDDING, man! I love him. I adore finches anyway – even when they aren’t contributing to the Dead Man soundtrack. (That was SO right on, Once a Fish.)

  30. This installation is abusively far from my home.

  31. Agent 99 says:

    ROCK ON, bird.

    You da man.

  32. Tom Jones says:

    Great, but can they play ‘Freebird’?

  33. tomato.bandit.queen says:

    haha… I love the finch with his homemade whammy bar.

    Rock on! \m/

  34. ntmtom – it is SO exactly like Nigel Tufnel’s guitar solo! except instead of violin, that birdie is using a stick.

    ps I watched Airplane! when it was on TCM the other night, too. “Did you ever get kicked – in the head – with an IRON BOOT?” It’s still good.

  35. Not That Mike The Other Mike says:

    Municipal bonds, kzgz — I’m talking double-A rating. The best investment in America…

  36. I am totally ripping off that twig trick for my next gig.

  37. They totally need to do this with Theremin…

  38. Um?

    Weird.

    Guess that it’s sort of like the 1000 monkeys in a room with typewriters, and how they’d eventually turn out the novel of the century. Somehow, I don’t think that a bunch of zebra finches with guitars would turn out a symphonic masterpiece. Or rock opera, for that matter.

    Just. Weird.

  39. You are all so au courant with your hip rock music references. :P I know how you young people “go for” the rock music.

  40. PS Anyone else see the RETURN of “Monkey on the Lam” on Colbert? :D

  41. PPS @Kzgz, that’s the Russian New Year. We can have a parade and serve hot hors d’oeuvres!

    (here we go!)

  42. They should try that with an African grey parrot. I bet it would catch on pretty quick.

  43. wordtooler says:

    As long as the birdies aren’t distressed by the sound, I think this is awesome! (I honestly don’t know much about birds!) They don’t seem too distressed in the video :D

  44. “rock on the artistic guitars all day long… a rockin’ and a boppin’ and a singin’ their song!” hehe………… strange art but liked their guitar pond for sure!

  45. Hon Glad says:

    Finch on the guitar “Look, this frigin twigin is, like, stuck, an I don’t need no
    accompanying soundtrack, while I wrestle with the mother, capice!

  46. @Sue: It all depends what you’re into. I’d take the finches over Andrew Lloyd Webber every single day of the week, and twice on Sundays!

  47. I don’t buy this. The twig wasn’t touching the lower strings at all. This is made up.

    [Lamest nuff ever? Discuss... :roll: - Ed.]

  48. Awesome. I heart zebra finches – used to have a couple myself (Reynolds and Lancaster) – AND I work round the corner from the place where this installation is. So I’m totally going there tonight, dudes! \m/

  49. BStrange says:

    Theresa (“You are all so au courant with your hip rock music references. :P I know how you young people “go for” the rock music.”)

    “Au cormorant”, maybe? ;) Though, cormorants look more like violinist types to me…

  50. That is so metal. \m/

  51. Don’t they poop all over the guitars?

    Won’t someone please think about the guitars???

  52. @HomoDM: Yet another guitar sacrifice in the name of rock. lol… geez, these little guys are NOTHING compared to The Who…

    I also second the idea that this should be tried with an African Grey…

    Is that DADGAD tuning?

  53. @Katie (#27) & Ed. Comment… Music Man refs FTW! You know, Meredith Willson wrote the Iowa Fight Song as well!

  54. Thanks all you guys and gulls out there, that’s our show for tonight. You’ve been a lovely audience.

    We’ll be in Cleveland all next week at the Civic Auditorium. Don’t forget to pick up a T-shirt or a CD of our latest album in the lobby.

    G’night, everybody!

  55. Bunnyfluffs says:

    HEY MAN

    PLAY SOME SKYNYRD!

    Wooooooooooo..

    *disappears into the crowd*

  56. Mommybird says:

    Oh man, my zebra finches would have *loved* that! I think the twig-using finch is a hen–she doesn’t have the bright cheek patches of a male. Budgies would like it, too–they love loud music.

  57. Marcy Hunt says:

    Um, who gets to clean the guitar? Ewww!

  58. It’s a cool concept (musical instruments for birds), but the horrible distortion effects on the guitars would aggravate me to the extreme. I wonder what the birds think of it? Their chirps are more “pure” tones, and the guitars are all dissonance to the max.

  59. KennyG- We need a FULL report-you are the Peep-on-the-scene! Go-go-go!

    I’d be interested in putting a few of the ‘talking birds’, mynahs even parrots in there, to see what happens! Of course, I would be in there the whole time watching and listening and building my nest in a giant electric guitar! Too cool!
    Stinkin’ cool!

  60. OMG I used to have a budgie that could pluck the strings on my acoustic guitar. She loved it! Though when she was done, she’d hide in it O_o glad to see someone else had the idea!

  61. 8o oh lordie – this is more redonk then Cevin Key of Skinny Puppy using his cats for his cd Music for Cats …….

    I like the solo artist finch. hehe

  62. ugh I didn’t get my pop eye face right, is this it ? 8O

  63. Well, I dunno: I personally think that there are some peeps (ahem, people) who would have bought a cd just hearing the soundtrack; it’s just that seeing the video and finding out that the artists are really birds is somewhat off-putting;
    (I rlly like the sound; if they can play classical, I will SO buy their next release…..!)

  64. @Peter S: The twig has an “T” shape; you can see it hit the E and A strings from underneath (and from above a couple times) and the difference in sound is quite apparent. The twig drums on the body of the guitar as well, and it takes very little excitation to drive a signal from an electric guitar string through a guitar amp – I used to tap the back of the guitar with the pad of my thumb to get a little droning rumble from the bottom notes. And there’s also going to be some feedback of the harmonics that resonate with the low strings, too.

    No fakery here.

  65. My parents had a few zebra finches when I was growing up, and they (or at least the males) would “answer” all kinds of noises, but especially the phone ringing. The little guys are just as aggressive as any other sort of rooster, and when they hear a strange noise they’re pretty much all about letting everyone know who’s personal space is being encroached upon.

  66. I was just thinking the whole time about how often they must have to clean it (I work in an art museum). But soooo cute! And I love the sound!

  67. I think this is a really fun idea! I wish I could visit the aviary and see (+hear) it for myself! :)

  68. Argyle Donkeypants says:

    These guys totally go to eleven.

  69. Surrealle says:

    Not exactly music to my ears, but a very cool and creative idea nonetheless. Thanks for the vid!

  70. It’s kind of like wind chimes… really metal windchimes. xD
    It probably would get annoying in long stretches, but it’s a very cool idea :D

  71. I think it’s cool, and I love those birds, so colorful and pretty.

    I’m assuming if the noises spooked them, they wouldn’t keep flying up and landing on the guitars.

    Rawk!

  72. Hey, it’s woodstock!

  73. SQUAWK ON! ykwim

  74. sounds like Sonic Youth :D

  75. Jimi would be SO proud!

  76. ysubassoon says:

    \\m// (devil sign fingers)

    Shred away, little finchies.

  77. @Michael: Fortunately, outside of this art installation, no one uses “horrible distortion effects” on guitars.

  78. Cookie Monster says:

    Awesome.

  79. I was so going to say that didn’t rawk, but then the one bird was trying to make a nest out of the guitar and a stick, and he was rawkin on like Hendrix. Too cool!

  80. @ Katrina, and anyone else who’s interested: so I went to see this on Friday and it was as awesome and totally redonkulous as I had hoped! To get in we walked on a winding path through a darkened room (‘Hello Cleveland!’) which opened up into the main room where there were about six or so upturned guitars and bass guitars scattered about, at about waist height, a few upturned cymbals holding seed or water (the musicians’ buffet), and some microphone stands for perching. AND A LOAD OF FREAKING ZEBRA FINCHES FLYING ABOUT! And walking round, and perching on the (tiny) amps! To be honest they didn’t seem that interested in twanging many strings. There were a few trying to build nests (as in the video), but the rest were mainly mooching about, eating, and beeping at each other. Apart from two who were totally rocking out – one was pecking at the bottom string with its beak while the other ran up and down the fretboard. My favourite moment was when one rock finch stood on my boot and started pecking at my foot, and then was joined by four or five more. I felt like I was totally in with the band, man!

    Oh, and yeah – there was poop on the guitars.

  81. HopeGrows247 says:

    You guys have pretty much covered it all! The only thing I can add is: THAT was thoroughly enjoyable!!!!!!!

  82. That is awesome. I’d just worry about one of the strings snapping and hurting those little guys…

    [Nah, they don't rawk THAT hard. ;) - Ed.]

  83. those birds know how to shred! especially the one who is building a nest on a live guitar!

  84. Laurel Ashley says:

    Loved this and so did my parrot Kelly. He got all excited and joined in with the bird twittering and chirping.

  85. This is sooo freaking cool!! And the finch with the twig, he’s TOTALLY jammin’! :D

  86. ROCK ON birdies!

  87. The person who thought of this is an absolute genius.

  88. Bird sounds tend to be really shrill and loud, so I can see why birds wouldn’t be afraid after they learned the noise wasn’t a sign of danger. Those birds don’t seem to be suffering at all, they look happy. And if anyone has every owned a bird they know the buggers can make a lot of noise, so why would they be bothered by it?