Neither Nightingale Nor Lark

by No Little Sparrow

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In late May/early June 2015 I found myself working with this material, originally as background audio for my friend's goal of recording an audiobook of To Our Friends (by The Invisible Committee). I made one piece for that. I had about an hour of mockingbird song I'd recorded from my bedroom, and of course a lot of cello & vocal source material from my existing songs. I used various techniques to slow those down and drag them out so they wouldn't be harmonically or lyrically distracting, but still texturally interesting. I used other birdsong recordings for tracks 1 and 6, while tracks 2-5 more or less use the whole sequence of mockingbird, in order. The lyrics I wrote basically automatically, taking inspiration from the lovelorn bitterness of the folksong Come All Ye Fair and Tender Maidens, and of course a reference to Romeo and Juliet where the young couple, sneakily in bed together, argues whether the bird singing outside is a nightingale or a lark.

This album is kind of a follow-up to IDTWS, which I released as Unwoman:


released June 15, 2015


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Unwoman San Francisco

Unwoman is a San Francisco-based cellist-singer-songwriter. Layered with skillful cello, rich vocals, and electronically arranged beats, her solo music is a futuristic homage to her classical training. Unwoman has been featured at steampunk, goth, and sci-fi-related events all over North America and has performed with Abney Park, Rasputina, Voltaire, Amanda Palmer, Stripmall Architecture... ... more

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Track Name: First They Appear
From "Come All Ye Fair and Tender Maidens" (Traditional)
I wish I was a little sparrow
And I had wings and I could fly
I'd fly away to you my lover
And when you'd speak I would deny

But I am not no little sparrow
I have no wigs, neither can I fly
I'll sit right down in my grief and sorrow
And let my troubles pass me by

Come all ye fair and tender maidens
Take warning how you court young men
They're like the stars of a summer's morning
First they appear and then they're gone
Track Name: Neither Nightingale Nor Lark Part 2
What bird sings to me when I am alone at night?
Whose voice do I hear but my own
Crooning someone else's hollow lovesongs?

Listen to the bird, his masculine ritual of desperation, all stolen beauty
And for all our disapproval still we learn to steal

This is no longer a game for me when I know real love exists
How dare I ignore it because it doesn't fit into existing stories
We must write our own
Track Name: Neither Nightingale Nor Lark Part 3
I remember the rooster who lived next door to you
Crowing at an hour that hardly felt like morning
But the sunlight was there too
And I acted the perfectly devoted partner as you went to work
And still this was not enough once you had had a piece of me
Once I'd written a song about you, now make it two, make it three

Now, color everything that looks like romance with distrust
And the very wise refusal to believe anything
Unless it could be stated and enacted constantly forever and always
I have finally learned what I wish had been instinct
To run deftly away from anything resembling love
Because its very definition is lies
Track Name: The Mockingbird Has Gone
The crows have found my village and all the death in it
Even the mockingbird is gone, found somewhere that's still green
Nothing but a murder lives here with me

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