Today’s Solutions: April 18, 2024

A rather peculiar audience gathered on a peaceful morning at a gorgeous Hawke’s Bay farm in New Zealand to witness a remarkable musical performance. Members of the prestigious New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, who are usually seen in magnificent concert halls, had donned their gleaming black attire and stood on the dew-kissed grass. As they began to play their instruments, the crowd that gathered was not made up of your typical classical music enthusiasts- it was a flock of a couple of thousand chickens.

Creating a custom symphony

You might be wondering what the relationship is between chickens and classical music. According to studies, animals respond very well to music. These fine-feathered creatures, it turns out, enjoy classical tunes, particularly those from the baroque era. The Bostock Brothers farm in New Zealand had been serenading their chickens with classical music in order to create a peaceful and joyful atmosphere.

However, the latest chapter in this one-of-a-kind musical adventure takes an intriguing turn. The symphony and the organic free-range chicken farm collaborated to develop an exclusive work, playfully titled “Chook Symphony No 1,” especially for these discerning chicks. The goal was to create music that would enhance the lives of the farm’s plucky residents.

Hamish Oliver, the composer, based his work on the baroque tradition, drawing inspiration from composers such as Corelli, Bach, and Schnittke. The use of sounds from the poultry world distinguishes this symphony. Oliver went on to say, “The trumpet imitates the chicken … the oboe and bassoon resemble the clucking of wind instruments, particularly when you remove the reeds.”

Improving chicken well-being

Extensive experimentation was carried out before the composition was finalized to identify which instruments and sounds resonated most effectively with the discerning chicken audience. Surprisingly, these feathery aficionados preferred soft tunes, while harsh percussion and abrupt sounds were disliked. When they respond positively to the music, they prefer to move around more freely among the trees, indicating a sense of contentment.

The ultimate goal of this musical endeavor is to spread a sense of calm throughout the world. Ben Bostock, one of the farm’s owners, hopes to see chicken farmers all around the world use this one-of-a-kind piece of music to provide a peaceful environment for their feathery companions.

Working closely with the farmers and hearing real-time input from the hens was a memorable experience for composer Hamish Oliver. It was a welcome diversion from the typical art world, as well as a heartening collaboration with the farming community.

The live chicken audience gathered around the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra as they played on the open grass, producing a spectacular and emotional moment. The symphony’s chief executive, Peter Biggs, found it inspiring to see the orchestra perform for its avian audience. The tunes of the musicians attracted the chickens together, much like a communal meeting.

What began as a frivolous idea turned into a profound link between the worlds of baroque music and the earthy world of chickens. It serves as a tribute to well-being, for all species, highlighting the beauty of unlikely partnerships.

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