Hi again! Here’s another that might need rethinking. Not from the archive this time – I just wrote this one, “Chickens in the Yard,” on June 6-7, 2022. Here’s what happened, explaining the title. Chickens, you see, are actually jazz musicians. This little-known fact becomes apparent on Kauai, where there are a great many wild chickens after Hurricane Iniki, which blew them out of their coops and all over the island. Wherever you live, you got chickens. And then you discover that sometimes they get up a song. The hens start a regular rhythmic cluck-cluck-cluck, often quite a few hens but all right on the beat with each other. The roosters, seeing their opportunity, start to fire off wild solos over the rhythm section. And something unfolds that you would swear was a kind of avian jazz. This can go on for twenty minutes.

While this is all very well, most of the time the chicken noise is a lot more random. And all the music I have recorded has been recorded with them dang chickens going off in the background (fortunately it does not penetrate my home-made studio). Finally, I broke down and gave them what they wanted – a song of their own. I painted them in music. I found that steel drums make a great clucking sound, and the rest just unfolded from that, in an “Ad Hoc Orchestra” of 1 Guitar, 2 Trumpets, 2 Treble Recorders, Orchestral Bells / FX 8 (Sci-Fi), 2 cellos, 2 tubas, steel drums, and piano.

Here’s the problem. It doesn’t really have a dominant melody. On the one hand, neither do the chickens, so it’s a fair representation, I guess. On the other hand, music seems incomplete to me without melody. What do you think? Should I try to add a leader melody over the whole shebang, or leave it as is? Maybe rooster-esque licks on a live electric guitar?

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  •  It really fits the title, however  think that the problem is not to ADD a new strong melody but to REMOVE some lines and maybe also simplifying the other ones, i understand the concept behind so it's good u keep this mood of lots of melodies played one by one. However i think there's an instrument that sounds notes out of pitch (expecially when it goes with the high and long ones) and i really like the guitar so I wanted to hear it before and not just in the last 1 min of the composition

    • Thnaks, Tiziano! Those are all interesting suggestions and I will play around with it some more when I have renewed my Sibelius. I like the guitar too, but maybe I'll spread it over more of the rest without adding any music. But I want to play the guitar lines live, not from Sibelius. And I'll look for sounds that could be dropped without aesthetic loss. I just wrote a guitar quintet I still haven't performed and recorded, and up in the mountains last week I turned out a guitar solo that will take a while to master. My problem as a performer is I keep having these fits of composition ...


  • the weird and wonderful FX8 is what really makes this rather fun and sweet. It's just chickens so I guess it can't be too anarchic.

    • Oh good, fun and sweet is what I was after. And if you mean the steel-drum chickens, I agree. They are the soul of the whole.


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