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Quite often I feel marvel in the complex structures that we have in our little heads. Especially with things like this: last Sunday I heard on the radio a song that I recognised… Oh, that’s the Pato (duck) song that this mexican girl Natalia Lafourcade is singing… How come does this sound like Stan Getz? So I realised that the song was actually a bossa nova standard, a great simple classic by Joâo Gilberto. Brazilian people love it as his last performances show (how much admiration and thankfulness in the final applause!).

So where’s the connection? Well, I work in front of a lake full with ducks and geese, and every time I see one I can’t help but remember either version… In the end, I’m the whole day singing it, either in my head when at work or loud while walking or cycling the streets.

Lafourcade’s naive and charming cover can be heard in this link.

Chiswick Park from my desk

I started to think that I know quite a lot of duck-related music… For instance: Is there any other duck as famous in the history of classical music, as the one in Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf‘? How many people have 'seen' him swim and flap through those oboe passages? Here you can listen to the duck musical highlights, without narration. And in the video below you can even see it, in this amazing production by the Royal Ballet School (1995).

To continue our journey we may need to dig the word in other languages… Genius guitarist Frank Zappa recorded not one but two songs with “Canard” in the title (duck in French). I always thought that it was somehow related to joints, but I haven’t found any correlation between canardo, Spanish jargon for spliff, and the French word… In any case, they are both great instrumental records, worth mentioning (links to them on the titles):

Canard du jour‘ is the oldest one. An experimental improvisation full of effects, with Zappa playing the bouzouki and Jean-Luc Ponty playing the violin (1982, Shut Up ‘n Play Yer Guitar).

On the other hand, the 2002 live album, FZ:OZ starts the second CD with this rhapsodic slow rock called ‘Canard toujours‘. The melodies that Zappa produces from his electric guitar are just prodigious…

There is another “canard” that gets my attention every time I hear it… Nicolas Jules is a French songwriter who has been creating very interesting music in recent years. ‘Mon canard’ (Powête, 2008) is a cool song with a mediterranean flavour spicing up the half-spoken French chanson tradition, which is rounded up by a very delicate and tasteful production. Link to the song here.

If we move then to English, we will easily reach dance music: NYC duo Duck Sauce made us jump and shout till exhaustion with their ‘Barbra Streisand’, though I like even better the classy ‘aNYway’, especially when I watch the amazing video that comes with it.

And if I allow myself to take these associations further, I will fall back to the classics. For which other duck is as classic as Disney's Donald? He featured in the animated concert Fantasia 2000, to Edward Elgar‘s ‘Pomp and circumstance’ (an all-British classic). The music doesn’t have anything to do with ducks itself, but I couldn’t leave Donald out, could I?

Link to the video clicking the image

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