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Degu Sounds
for solo piano

Works nos. 52, 53, and 64–66
2015

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    A degu – more properly the common degu, Octodon degus – is a Chilean rodent. They're frequently kept as pets in Europe and the European part of Russia, although few people realize how difficult it can be to take proper care of these animals. They're very social, and should always be kept in groups of 2 or more; a solitary degu will develop mental issues akin to depression. Highly intelligent for a rodent, they require large enclosures and plenty of toys and furniture to play with. Their bodies have trouble processing sugar, so it's necessary to keep them on a healthy diet. They can live up to 8 years, and can bond with their owners.

    These five piano pieces are based on degu vocalizations. Degus have a rather large vocal repertoire, and these pieces cover a range of situations from everyday allogrooming, to fighting for territory, to a degu dying. The music is simultaneously an extended transcription of the sounds themselves, and a description of – a feeling for – the motivation behind the vocalizations.

    I am indebted to British researcher Chloe Long, without whose website Degutopia not only these pieces would not exist, but I would not be able to keep my degus in the first place. I've adopted her numbering scheme for degu vocalizations I used, and each piece is subtitled with a bit of text from her descriptions of the corresponding sounds. For years I've been meaning to write to her, to thank her for her work and to show her these pieces. I was too shy. Writing to strangers has always been difficult for me. By the time I worked up the courage to send that email in 2020, I learned that Chloe Long died of cancer the year before.


    Degu Sounds – PDF score


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