I was browsing through a Charlie Parker tunebook to get some ideas for the upcoming wild Up concert when the title “Bird of Paradise” caught my eye. To be honest I was originally interested because it reminded me of those amazing Planet Earth documentaries involving unique birds, but soon after the notes became attractive as well. The tune has a simple four-bar melody played over a Db7 chord followed by a C7 chord, repeated once. At the bottom of the page it says “Solo on ‘All the things you are’” (a tune by Jerome Kern) so in a nutshell “Bird of Paradise” is two chords, and a little melody. What could be a better recipe for an elongated spectral haze of woodwinds and strings?
The Db7 and C7 chords Parker uses in his piano part take notes from the first 7 partials of their respective harmonic series. I’ve extended the note content up to the 16th partial, giving these chords rich microtonal harmonies. Playing with timbre and rhythm I’ve spread the notes throughout the orchestra, letting these two series exist and overlap over the period of six minutes.
Who knows, maybe this is what it sounds like when the bird of paradise goes home to paradise…..
Archie Carey is a bassoonist, a composer, and a tree climber living in Los Angeles. Much of his work uses field recordings, alternative tunings, and enlarged subtleties. He has performed in Germany, Italy, Israel, China, and throughout the USA playing anything from Mozart to a metal plate with a contact microphone through distortion pedals. www.archiecarey.com