Common Nighthawks and Their MusicBy
Common Nighthawks have a distinctive and appealing vocabulary, comprising sounds vocal and mechanical. We wouldn’t normally call any of them melodic, but the wonderful and eccentric F. Schuyler Mathews could find music in anything: the nighthawk
seems to go no way in particular, and to have no place in particular for which he shapes his course; it is a decidedly ‘go-as-you-please’ performance with an obligato rasping, double-toned accompaniment of geeps, and it will presently end as if he had been shot. Down he drops eighty feet or more, then suddenly recovers himself, and you hear a subdued boom like that of the bass trumpet in the brass band!
I wondered how he would notate that sound, the whirring thrum of the diving bird’s wings. It’s all in the decrescendo.
PS: Mathews is quoting a song when he mentions “the bullfrog in the pool.”