by Kaye George
Since I’m a musician and have written a Musical Mystery, I’d like to talk about the ties between animals and music.
First, some famous popular ones. Have you seen Walt Disney’s Fantasia? Do you remember the hippos in tutus, dancing to Dance of the Hours? The goldfish swimming along with Arabian Dance? Or the dinosaurs battling through The Rite of Spring? Those are the first animals that come to mind when I relate animals to music.
In the first of my Cressa Carraway mysteries, I reference a couple of musical pieces with animals themes (chickens and sharks), but there are so many more!
For famous classical examples, Saint Saens’ Carnival of the Animals begins with the Royal March of the Lions, includes hens, roosters, asses, elephants, swans and more. It was written for fun. He tossed it off for a private performance, but today it’s one of his most-played pieces, often played for children.
Peter and the Wolf, by Prokofiev, is also played for children. But in both pieces, the animals characterized are captured perfectly by the music. The pieces are fun to listen to and totally suitable for audiences of all ages.
But beyond music written about animals, we can consider animals that make music: birds and whales. Spring is in full swing in East Tennessee right now, where I’m writing, and I am almost bombarded, out my window, by cardinals and towhees and bluebirds calling out their mating songs. Much music is modeled after bird song: Song of the Nightingale by Stravinsky, Ballet of Chicks in their Shells (part of Pictures at an Exhibition) by Mussorgsky (orchestrated by Ravel), The Cuckoo and the Nightingale by Handel, Song of the Lark by Tchaikovsky, and a mythical bird--Firebird Suite by Stravinsky.
Animals also enjoy music--sometimes. When I was in junior high school, I had a friend named Barb whose mother who played organ. Whenever she played, their Bassett hound would get as close to the pedals as he could and bay at the top of his doggy lungs. I was never sure if he was singing along or trying to drown it out.
As a child, we had goldfish that swam to music. Maybe it was just the vibrations, but that’s a big part of music, right?
Do you relate animals to music easily? I’d love to hear more examples.
Kaye George is a short story writer and novelist who has been nominated for three Agatha awards and has been a finalist for the Silver Falchion. She is the author of four mystery series: the Imogene Duckworthy humorous Texas series, the Cressa Carraway musical mystery series, the FAT CAT cozy series (coming in 2014), and The People of the Wind Neanderthal series (see Kaye's earlier post about Mega Fauna of North America).
Her short stories can be found in her collection, A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, as well as in several anthologies, various online and print magazines. She reviews for "Suspense Magazine", writes for several newsletters and blogs, and gives workshops on short story writing and promotion. Kaye lives in Knoxville, TN.