How many crows are there in a murder?
According to some, just two…or three…or four…or a giant flock.

My starting point for this week’s Music Weeklies Challenge was a dangerous thing for me – walking down memory lane.

I have an admiration for corvids and they have appeared sonically in tracks I have written over the years. When I began wondering about the term…A Murder of Crows, for some reason it led me down that infernal memory lane, stopping at a poem I learnt at school (aeons ago), the ‘Twa Corbies’.

“As I was walking all alane,
I heard twa corbies making a mane;
The tane unto the t’other say,
‘Where sall we gang and dine to-day?’

‘In behint yon auld fail dyke,
I wot there lies a new-slain knight;
And naebody kens that he lies there,
But his hawk, his hound, and his lady fair.”

This poem always fascinated me and the original Scottish version –…corbies/ appealed to the gruesome inquisitiveness in me as a child. Most versions of this ballad and the English version ‘Three Ravens’, are slow and forbidding, as the said Corbies discuss the rich pickings of a fallen Knight. However, I always thought this was a jolly conversation as the Corbies get a slap up meal at the end.

Here, I imagined the conversation between crows in a tree, eyeing the carcass of the dead knight in armour. They swoop down and with claws and beaks, help themselves to some tasty rotten morsels. Of course, word gets out and soon the sky is blackened with a huge cloud of circling crows. When there’s not enough for all, the murder of crows fly off leaving the original crows behind.
There’s still plenty of leftovers for the twa corbies in the end.

Many thanks to Ambientsoundapp, Ken788 and Straget on Freesound for the use of their field recordings under the Creative Commons 0 License and to Kit Johnson for his field recordings of metal sounds.

Best listened through headphones.