Birds on wires – video

7 June 2014 by GrrlScientist, posted in Birds, Video

SUMMARY: What's the relationship between a photograph of a small flock of urban birds sitting on power lines and music? Pattern recognition.


Birds on the Wires (screen capture).

The ability of humans to read meaning into patterns is the most defining characteristic we have."

~ Eleanor Catton

At last! The work week is finally come to a conclusion for most of us, and like a welcome friend, Caturday is here again. So let's celebrate by watching a cute animal video!

Today's video is fun because it quietly embodies a (possibly) unique human talent; pattern recognition. Basically, the human ability to recognise patterns is probably what gave us our evolutionary edge over other animals. Pattern recognition provided humans with the capacity to associate distinct phenomena -- the migration of animals to seasons, for example, a quality that enhanced survival into this modern age.

In this modern age, scientists are just one group of people who rely upon finely honed pattern recognition skills, although they're not the only ones. Sports figures, judges, economists and musicians also are members of this club.

The inspiration for this week's Caturday video came to Brazilian musician Jarbas Agnelli after he noticed a picture of birds on the power lines. The photograph, by Paulo Pinto, originally appeared in Brazil's largest daily newspaper, O Estado de São Paulo, on 27 August 2009.

"I cut out the photo and decided to make a song, using the exact location of the birds as notes", says Agnelli on his youtube site.

"I was just curious to hear what melody the birds were creating."

Agnelli created a short musical composition by overlaying musical notes on the original, un-retouched, positions of the birds in the photograph.

"I just erased the birds for effect at the end [of the video], but didn't change their positions at all", explains Agnelli on his youtube site. "What would be the point?"

Indeed. I think the resulting musical piece is quite charming:

Music made with Logic.
Video made with After Effects.

NOTE: this piece is slightly modified from the original, written by GrrlScientist and published on The Guardian.

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When she's not out birding, Grrlscientist can be found on on her eponymous Guardian blog, and she sometimes lurks on social media; facebook, G+, LinkedIn, Pinterest. She's quite active on twitter: @GrrlScientist

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