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300 singing turkeys

posted by Sarah Pavis   Nov 21, 2012

Over at The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer reflects on the cultural role turkeys play in our Thanksgiving celebrations, specifically the presidential turkey pardon, by way of a 1970’s artistic experiment.

There’s even a better — a more festive, convivial — way to humanize them while still celebrating Thanksgiving with them.

That way, of course, is singing with them. Singing with turkeys.

In November 1973, the Berkeley, California-based public radio station KPFA sent a young avant garde musician to a local turkey farm. Jim Nollman was just out of college, and, acccording to the Smithsonian, he had heard “that wild male turkeys can gobble on cue — especially in response to loud or high-pitched sounds.” Nollman’s goal was to harness this to artistic, or at least aural, ends.

And he did.

Check out the full article on The Atlantic for the explanation of Jim Nollman’s Doctor Dolittle-ing of the turkeys.

The trick to the process is riding the shared musical energy without aggravating the turkeys.