Nightingale Cities | David Rothenberg


Nightingale Cities | David Rothenberg
Gruen 189 | Double CD > [order]


Five years in the making, David Rothenberg’s Nightingales in Berlin project includes a book, a film, many live concerts, and this double CD, including a 20 page color booklet of stills from the film and music not available in any form online. Here’s what Rothenberg says about the project:


“I used to make interspecies music largely on my own, seeing myself as some kind of individual explorer seeking out musical ideas with creatures we can’t even talk to. But in recent years I’ve decided that the point of musical contact with another species is to convince other people to join me. Over five years, from 2014 through 2019, I invited the best and most adventurous musicians I know to connect in musical collaboration—humans with nightingales, in Berlin and Helsinki.


The nightingales have helped me find the perfect sound. By assembling just the right group of kindred spirits, together we dream of a way that humans and nature might live closer together. Our species is warming the planet beyond recognition, and this could mean the end of our reign over this place. Yet there are still these moments during which humans can touch nature through sound happening all around us, as we make music along with the nightingales of Helsinki and Berlin. The paths to animal music sit right before us.


I love to listen to different musicians respond to the song of the nightingale for the very first time. I have played with these birds for several years now, and sometimes I wonder why I keep trying to make music with musicians with whom I cannot speak, who live as birds—such different lives than people who may join the band. Some human critics think it’s all delusion, that I intrude upon the birds’ ancient world of perfect sound and struggle, but whenever I bring a new musician along to play with nightingales, I realize why I began this process in the first place. We all feel such joy and hope when music can carry meaning from one species to another. The planet becomes a more harmonious place.”



Nightingale Cities


Emil Buchholz, bass
Korhan Erel, iPad
Wouter Jaspers, Field Kit
Lembe Lokk, voice
Benedicte Maurseth, Hardanger fiddle
Wassim Mukdad, oud
Jay Nicholas, electric bass in remix
Volker Lankow, frame drum
David Rothenberg, clarinet, bass clarinet, seljefløyte, iPad
Sanna Salmenkallio, violin
Cymin Samawatie, voice
Ines Theileis, voice


Disc One, Berlin (72 minutes)


1. The Boori Sound
2. Dreaming Slow
3. While Birds Chant Praises
4. O Bülbul, Your Love
5. The Nightingales Are Drunk
6. Viktoria’s Dream
7. Nightingale Cities
8. Addicted to Birds
9. She’s Finally Here
10. At Midnight We All Waited
11. I Cannot Go Home
12. Exit Music
13. Nightingale, You Are the One


Disc Two, Helsinki (69 minutes)


1. Elektro Repeet
2. Sharawaji Blues
3. Willow Wind
4. No One Sings at Dawn Alone
5. Ballad with Nightingale and Mosquitoes
6. Sisichak
7. Sisichak Remix [for Emu]
8. Alien Beauty
9. The Morning Electric
10. Sotavalta’s Satakieli
11. NeoNachtigall


24 Tracks (141′00″)
Double CD (500 copies)
20 page color booklet


In the green midnight by the nightingale’s northern limit. Heavy leaves hang in trance, the deaf cars race toward the neon-line. The nightingale’s voice does not step aside, it’s as piercing as a cock-crow, beautiful without conceit. I was in prison and it visited me. I was sick and it visited me. I didn’t know it then, but I do now. Time streams down from the sun and the moon into all the tick-tock-thankful clocks. Right here there is no time. Only the nightingale’s voice, the raw ringing tones that whet the night sky’s gleaming scythe. – Tomas Tranströmer, „The Nightingale at Badelunda“




Photos by Ville Tanttu,
stills from his film Nightingales in Berlin


Produced by David Rothenberg together with his book,
Nightingales in Berlin (University of Chicago Press, 2019)


Recorded live on location in Germany and Finland 2014-2018
by David Rothenberg, Ville Tanttu, and Reelika Ramot
Mixed and mastered by David Rothenberg
at B Street, Cold Spring and NOTAM, Oslo.


© & ℗ 2019
All titles published by Mysterious Mountain Music (BMI)
All rights reserved.
Terra Nova Music – TN1920


Sound Art Series by Gruenrekorder
Germany / 2019 / Gruen 189 / LC 09488