Musical Animals (Musical Themes) and Unintended Consequences


I’m back with another group of songs based on a theme. This time the theme is animals, selected by Willow. You can check out her blog here. Others who are participating in this thematic scheme include Johnny, Bear, and Eva. Check out their selections about animals and their other themes.

There are many mentions of animals of all kinds in music, and it took me a while to think of how I wanted to approach this theme. After a little thinking and exploration, I decided to go for a variety of critters. So I have two mammals as well as one bird, one amphibian, one reptile, and one fish (although the fish might be pushing it). I even have insects, a whole swarm of them.

As I was putting the final post together, I noticed that the majority of the songs had such high energy. Not all animal songs have such high energy; many of them are more mellow, much like Wildfire below, but I gravitated toward high energy. Also, I’ve had some very interesting insights while working on this post, which I’ve written about after the links to the songs. I hope you have as much fun listening to these selections as I had putting them together.

I’ll start with the mammals

Uganda Kob (male) in the Queen Elisabeth Natio...

Uganda Kob (male) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Lion Sleeps Tonight (The Tokens)

Wildfire  (Michael Martin Murphy)

The Insects

DirkvdM orange insect 2

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flight of the Bumblebee

A Bird

Bird - Duck - Mallard

Mallard Duck (Photo credit: blmiers2)

Mocking bird (Carly Simon, James Taylor)

An Amphibian

Description: Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes) †. ...

Golden Toad (Bufo periglenes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joy to the World (Three Dog Night)

A Reptile

English: White-headed dwarf gecko in Dar es Sa...

White-headed dwarf gecko, Tanzania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crocodile Rock (Elton John)

A Fish

A Giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) take...

A Giant grouper (Epinephelus lanceolatus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barracuda (Heart)

The fish also get an honorable mention above in Joy to the World above:  “Joy to the fishies in the deep blue sea.”


When I started this blog, I never thought I’d be posting about music. These thematic challenges intrigued me, and I started participating, not realizing that there was something more basic going on. This activity was calling to me at a deeper level. With this second of my musical posts, I think I understand this tug a little better.

For many years, the piano was a major part of my life and my career. Now, between graduate school and my time here in Taiwan, I have been away from the piano for nearly ten years. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve sat down at a piano since coming to Taiwan. Two of those times were last summer when I spent time at the home of my brother’s family. They have my piano there for my nephew to use, so it will be there for me someday when I return. I was rusty sitting down to play, but even in those two sessions, I could tell that it would come back with a little work.

I’ve been aware of missing music in my life. I’ve tried a few things, like online radio, reminding myself to turn on music, finding a few songs I like to sing along with, but somehow it doesn’t fill the void. There are moments when it feels like I’m almost there, but it doesn’t last. Maybe it was that I wasn’t really engaged with the music the way I have been in the past. But this activity of finding songs and building a narrative for them around an assigned theme is different. It engages me on many levels, and the deadline keeps me from putting it off.  If I put it on the back burner, I lose out on the opportunity. Until I can spend regular time at the piano again, exploring music in this way and posting the results is helping me reconnect with music, to be surrounded by it again, in a new and powerful way.

8 comments on “Musical Animals (Musical Themes) and Unintended Consequences

  1. Woo! This is a brilliant post Deborah and I am so pleased to hear that it has opened up a door that you have had, if not locked shut to you for a while!! I am so pleased for you!! xxxxx 😉

    • Thanks, Willow! I knew I was ok moving from full-time work in music to a focus in other areas, but I did not expect to have so few opportunities to actually play the piano here. To go from 35 years of using keyboard instruments as the main focus of my professional life to the limited contact I now have has been an adjustment. I’ve known for a while that I wanted to add more music to my life, but it’s this interesting combination of searching through music with a specific theme to express that seems to have helped me make a new connection. It’s pretty awesome! Thanks for your support! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Music Themes: ANIMALS « bearspawprint

  3. You put together a lovely collection, and took me down memory lane, too. But tell me, why are fish “pushing it”?
    During the few years when I did not have a piano, is used church pianos … and organs. I thought I was alone most of the time, but found out that pastors and priest were leaving doors unlocked just for me, when they had observed my “schedule” while unbeknownst to me they were hidden in offices. The big empty sanctuaries had wonderful resonance that my home(s) never had.
    I am so glad you have decided to join us in this adventure. Thank you.
    Have you thought about using an electronic keyboard? There are some with wonderful sound, 52 keys, sustain, and even earphones so you can play without disturbing the wa. When they were new you could only play a chord with two or three notes, but now Chopin can be performed (well, not by me anymore). Some even have the right resistance to pressure on the keys. They do require electricity. Such a long time without making one’s own music is painful, an internal hardship, an ongoing agony of withdrawal. There has to be some way to get around the physical limitations of circumstances. Do you play other instruments? Have you considered other instruments?
    As we are already leaning this way, we have decided to include art work and poetry as well as or instead of music if and/or when we prefer. Own compositions are of course welcome or even preferred. Eva’s choice, next. Then Johnny. Would you like to choose a theme, between Johnny and me?
    Thank you for all you have done, Bear

  4. Pingback: Musical Animal Crackers Anyone? Yes, I’ll Take the Horses, Please. | 47whitebuffalo's Blog

  5. Hello Deborah.
    I love what you’ve written about unintended consequences. I hope you can soon find a way to enjoy a piano experience via some form of keyboard.
    I am having a lot of fun listening to ALL your selections.
    I have a great time finding all sorts of music I know and exploring some of ALL the music I have no clue about online I miss the independent music store that I used to frequent. Online is not quite the same experience physically but–I do get around more than I might have otherwise.
    Enjoy yourself!

    • Hi Eva,
      It will be a long time before I can do keyboard time, but I have my quilts for now. Keyboards were an ongoing part of my professional life for a long time, and while I sometimes miss it, I am too busy with many other things to be overly concerned about it. That’s why I like a different way to express myself through music. When I was a music director, school music teacher, and piano teacher, I really enjoyed it, but that was before going to grad school and moving on to a new life of teaching writing. Expression in any form is good. I just had to find a new niche. Someday, I’ll be back in the US, and I will retrieve my piano and spend some time catching up. 🙂

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