Degu Sounds (2015)

Degus are Chilean rodents of the order Caviomorpha – the same that includes chinchillas, guinea pigs, and capybaras. We keep several, and they inspired the pieces of this collection, all of which are based on various degu vocalisations (of which there are many, and more pieces will probably added at a later date). None of the pieces are simple transcriptions. Rather, they are musical interpretations of the sounds. For example, No. 6 in real life is a very soft and fast warbling sound, while the music "imagines" what the sound would be like if it were slowed down extremely, and transposed, and rendered using traditional Western music idioms, with repeats, open intervals, etc. No. 15 is quite different, and does not deal with a generic vocalisation. It was composed in memory of the first of our degus to die and renders the last sound I have heard from the animal that was addressed to me. The piece has a faithful transcription of the sound in question on the top staff, but the same concept of repeated notes is used differently on the bottom staff, together with some percussive noise from the pedal. Other pieces in the series, too, use varying degrees of freedom of invention when dealing with the actual vocalisations they're based on.

I am indebted to British researcher Chloe Long, without whose website Degutopia not only these pieces would not exist, but we would not be able to keep our degus in the first place. I've adopted her numbering scheme for degu vocalisations I used, and each piece is subtitled with a bit of text from her descriptions of the corresponding sounds. The list below is in order of composition:

Degu Sounds – No. 6: PDF score | MP3 audio
Degu Sounds – No. 2: PDF score | MP3 audio
Degu Sounds – No. 15: PDF score | MP3 audio
Degu Sounds – No. 10: PDF score | MP3 audio
Degu Sounds – No. 4: PDF score | MP3 audio

For convenience, here is a version of the score as a single file, complete with a small essay on the music: PDF