Photo Of Birds On A Wire Inspires Music

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Brazilian composer Jarbas Agnelli saw a photo in a newspaper of birds sitting on five parallel wires, and was inspired to treat their positions as avian sheet music. He interpreted what he saw as music and orchestrated the tune.


We heard about a composer who has drawn inspiration from birds, specifically from a photograph of birds.

Two weeks ago, Brazilian musician Jarbas Agnelli opened his newspaper in Sao Paulo and saw a photograph of birds in silhouette perched on parallel wires.

Where other readers may have thought of the movie "The Birds," Agnelli saw the beginning of a musical score.

Mr. JARBAS AGNELLI (Composer): I have this idea that I decided to try to see what music that birds were playing because it was made exactly with five wires. That is the numbers of lines in a score. So I decided to sit in the piano and see what sounds came out of it.


Agnelli saw the position of the birds as if they were notes on a musical staff. The birds' relation to each other spread out on the five wires suggested chords to the composer and a melody. He put the tune into 4:4 time.

He sent a recording of the resulting work to that newspaper in Brazil. In turn, the photographer sent him the original, uncropped photo which revealed more birds than appeared in the paper and thus more notes.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. AGNELLI: I decided to finish the melody with the extra notes. So the music we are hearing right now is the final version. It fits perfectly in what I was needing.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: The orchestration is by Jarbas Agnelli, as is the video that he posted online, and now he has been approached to write a children's book about the story, about his true example of bird song.

BLOCK: And you can see the video, including the image of birds that inspired the composition at

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: You are listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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