One human…and 300 turkeys:

In November 1973, the Berkeley, California-based public radio station KPFA sent a young avant garde musician to a local turkey farm. Jim Nollman was just out of college…he had heard “that wild male turkeys can gobble on cue — especially in response to loud or high-pitched sounds.” Nollman’s goal was to harness this to artistic, or at least aural, ends.

He made two recordings. The first is a solo track of Nollman singing — accompanied by 300 of the birds — “Froggy Went A Courtin’.” It’s kind of an amazing thing.

More than once, Nollman gets the entire rafter of turkeys to cry “Uh-huh” along with the music.

The longer you listen, the more hysterical this becomes. When he raises the pace and the intensity, the gobblers respond. He’ll pause – and then do it again. As he explains, “The toms respond to pitch and volume. When a certain relative intensity is reached, each turkey emits a single gobble. A large flock can be manipulated to respond in unison, no different than a basketball player getting a crowd to erupt by sinking a crucial basket.”


Now spend the rest of your day trying to get this tune out of your head…

by Dean Young