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melody the day through. The wood be similar to the foregoing, and each thrush with his few figures used them, would generally begin on a different note, and them only, not inventing recklessly, which, as it was deliberate, loud, and penbut employing his well-learned themes etrating, was not difficult to determine with apparent purpose.
with the pitch-pipe. The rapid figures,
however, were altogether too lively to When I turned from the wood thrush be analyzed in this way, and had to be to study the song of his smaller cousin, guessed at from their apparent intervals. the hermit thrush, I found a far harder It was my impression, not ventured as task confronting me. Hermit thrushes an unqualified statement, that the sang with untiring persistence, some forms adhered rather closely to the matimes for an hour or more at a stretch, jor or minor scale ; at all events, after lisand at all times of the day, but they tening to scores of birds and taking voluwere generally much shyer than the wood minous notes upon two or three singers, thrushes, harder to approach, and more that was the way it appeared. Of course restless, often changing from tree to tree the birds
sang off the pitch with freedom, while in song. Then, too, they were just as did the wood thrushes ; but neverseldom at all gregarious, being found at theless, the impression produced was of considerable distances one from another, an approximation to the conventional whereas wood thrushes seemed to prefer scale. to nest in little colonies ; so I had to Assuming that such was the case, it tramp through wide stretches of New followed that each phrase was in a key England and Canadian pastures and of its own, which was determined genforests, and row many miles along the erally by the opening note; and from a shores of Canadian lakes, in order to mass of observations the fact soon aplearn to know even a few of these singers peared that the opening notes of these very well. Only on very rare occasions phrases formed part of a definite scale. did I succeed in taking notes from a few A certain bird, for instance, as in the yards; as a rule, my studies were neces case to be noted below, had nine phrases, sarily carried on at a respectful distance and these were always in the following from the invisible performers, as they keys: perched in the thick green of hemlocks or spruces, or among the foliage of great sugar maples.
Each thrush, it appeared, had from eight to eleven separate phrases, and Others were in sharps, but, however these, unlike the figures of the wood arranged, these opening notes always thrush, were in several different keys, formed some scale. No doubt the acand were all approximately of the same tual sounds did not conform entirely; form. This typical hermit thrush theme some were a shade too low, others too consisted of a long opening note, followed high, but the pitch-pipe never failed to reby two or more groups of rapid notes cord a series surprisingly close to some higher on the scale, as in the following conventional scale. This meant that all example:
of the hermit thrush utterances were
related in a much more elaborate manmof
ner than were any of the wood thrush b 5 a
phrases. In some cases it followed that the bird sang in just those keys marked
by the opening notes. Here is an ex. Each of the eight or more phrases would ample of this sort :
The contrast in form between this and hibited the regularity of the singer figthe wood thrush's song is obvious. In- ured above. A neighbor of the “camp' stead of from three to five unlike phrases thrush, whose voice often rang out with forming part of a broken melody, there his in response or in rivalry, had a more were nine phrases, all similar in form, complicated system, fascinating in its vanot melodic, but thematic in character. riety. Following out the system of noThat songs so unlike in form should be menclature which I have used for purconfused seems scarcely comprehensible. poses of identification, I will call him the
By no means all hermit thrushes ex- sugar woods” thrush.
Here there were ten phrases in six keys, phrases were so long as almost to merit of which two were minor, and in four the name of melodies. A striking feacases the opening note was not the key- ture of them was their frequent syncopanote.
tion, and the fact that in one case the A still more elaborate variety was that long opening note was omitted, of a Canadian thrush, some of whose usual occurrence.
Just what Burroughs meant when he I found much harder to determine than wrote years ago that the hermit thrush’s that of the wood thrush, since there were song was "interspersed with the finest more phrases, all of which were similar trills and the most delicate preludes," is in form, and some of which differed by not clear to me. I have heard the birds only a half tone. The ear could not be sing at such short range that their loud relied upon with certainty to distinguish notes fairly pierced, yet I have never de- in all cases between a C natural or a tected any soft notes like those of the D flat phrase, and it was hard to adjust wood thrush, to which, indeed, the fore- a pitch-pipe rapidly enough. Still, by going description seems to apply. Pos- unending patience, a good many records sibly it may refer to the hermit's whisper were obtained, and these when studied song, which consists of the bird's highest showed a similar result to that found in phrases at the top of his register, sung the records of the wood thrush. The sotto voce in a rather hurried manner, hermit thrush, while bound to no order, with occasional hints at one of the lower tended to use certain favorite sequences figures. But when the bird was in full and to avoid others. With the “camp” song, these high phrases played a limited thrush this was not very obvious, but in part only.
the long run it appeared that the bird The order of the hermit thrush's song adhered to successions like that in the
notation, liking to jump by fifths and the wood thrush's. Here is an example octaves, and seeming to avoid with great from a Massachusetts bird, the “ pascare the utterance of successive phrases ture” hermit thrush, neighbor of the at or near the same pitch.
"pasture” wood thrush before described : The “sugar woods” thrush, however,
mf surpassed the “ camp” thrush in the interest of his song order, for he had certain definitely marked preferences. After the first phrase in B flat major he sang the After this first phrase would come a octave phrase more than half the time, pause, then, in a far more penetrating and the E flat phrase most of the re voice, a middle phrase, brilliant and memainder ; after the phrase in D major, tallic, but sometimes, it must be conhe sang the phrase beginning with A, the fessed, reedy to the point of harshness. eighth in the notation, the phrase in
mf B flatmajor, the phrase in E minor beginning on G,- the sixth in the notation, and no others. So each might be taken in succession, and it would be found that Following that would come another low the bird had a certain favorite order, phrase, round in the opening note, ringwith a limited range of variation. Now ing in the rapid figures. and then he would sing his ten phrases
PP in succession, but far oftener his choice of alternatives prevented such a conclusion and led to repetitions. The notation above represents, however, an actual se Then, after the usual pause, would break quence. The matter may be summed out a phrase an octave higher, in a thin, up by saying that beneath an apparently metallic utterance, contrasting sharply haphazard utterance, clear signs were with the preceding one, and by its change found of permanent preferences in each in timbre suggesting a jump of two ocbird. Like the wood thrush, the hermit taves rather than one. tried to produce continual variety, with
PPP out repetition of phrases near the same pitch, and without violent contrasts. It
* will be seen that most of the sequences are in related keys; and when the bird Then down would come the bird again varies from flats to sharps the change is to a middle phrase, this one clear and made easy by the form. See, for instance, penetrating, the opening note swelling how the "sugar woods” thrush, having a little, the rapid triplets falling like sung a minor phrase beginning with B tongued fute notes. flat,
the fifth, follows it with one beginning with G natural, which is a rather
mf harsh sequence in itself, but rendered inconspicuous here by the fact that it is a precise echo of the B flat phrase. After that a pause, and then a high
The contrasts of pitch were aided by phrase in metallic tones. those of timbre. The lowest phrases were
Грр generally round and hollow, not very loud, but exquisitely finished in delivery, uttered with deliberation and spirit, clear and rich, after pauses even longer than And finally a high C, thin and tinkling, VOL. XCIII. - NO. 560.
a "spray " of notes, as Bradford Torrey more flowing. On the other hand, the calls it somewhere.
hermit's voice was more penetrating,
more vibrant with overtones; its sweetpp
ness was piercing instead of liquid, and
at any distance it rang with a silvery *
chime; while the wood thrush's short
phrases sounded, by comparison, muffled And so it would go on, a half hour at and dull. a stretch, continual contrast in pitch and Although birds differ very much in timbre, continual progression, continual vocal quality, and some hermits are vastly variation in the order, piquing the inter- superior, not only in penetration but in est with never-failing change, long after sweetness, to a great many wood thrushes, a sparrow or a bobolink would have be- yet on the whole the contrast of these come utterly familiar.
two birds seemed typical ; and were it Why the hermit thrushes should use a question of vocal sweetness alone, the sets of musical themes whose initial notes hermit thrush would have to be ranked fall into a scale, why they should employ below his larger cousin. But in songthese themes so as to secure pleasing form, in execution, and in general effect, contrast, or why they should prefer cer- the contrast was undeniably, it seemed tain sequences to others, does not appear. to me, in favor of the hermit thrush. Whatever the true explanation may be, The wood thrush had a clear, liquid modthe effect
upon the listener is that of per- ulation, sudden and striking, and a brilsonality; ; every one of the little olive and liant arpeggio, but the hermit had a russet singers seems to be exercising æs- more elaborate figure, greater delicacy thetic judgment.
of utterance, and a manner of delivery A few times during this search it was which no wood thrush equaled. His my good fortune to hear these two long opening note in each phrase swelled thrushes simultaneously, — twice on a gradually, the first group of rapid notes mountain side in Canada, and several came louder, like a sparkling shower, times in the brook valleys of the Berk- and the next one diminished, fading shire hills in Massachusetts. On one away into a silvery whisper. When the memorable occasion fine singers of the two sang together, the wood thrush's two species, those called here the "pas- phrases seemed beautiful, but fragmenture” wood thrush and the “pasture tary, the hermit thrush's a finished perhermit thrush, sang in full voice not over formance. He did not sing louder than fifty yards apart; and while I drank in the wood thrush, but his voice and dethe sounds, it seemed to me that the su- livery marked him out amid the full perior beauty of the wood thrush's best chorus of early summer, which at that tones was undeniable. There was a liquid time made the fields and woods vocal. fullness, and that pulsation like an organ Over the chirping of sparrows or wartremolo on the final note of the first two blers, the tinkle of wrens, the bubble and phrases, which was not equaled by his ri- sparkle of bobolinks, the flowing warble val. The hermit's low phrases were clear of robins or grosbeaks, through the chimand ringing, but lacked the color of the ing of veeries, even through the liquid larger bird's. In the middle and upper notes of the wood thrush, the steady, registers the two were more nearly on swinging phrases of the hermit thrush an equality, and, in fact, could scarcely pierced their way, now high and clear, be distinguished except for the form; now low and ringing, always individual, but here, also, it seemed to me that the strong, delicate, and aspiring. He was wood thrush was rather sweeter and the master artist of the Northern woods.
Theodore Clarke Smith.