I imagine every family develops private words and phrases. One of Dave’s and mine is parakeet music. Parakeet music is music that makes our two parakeets dance around and chirp a lot. One might think at first that what they’d like best is something with a lot of twittering flutes and piccolos, but no, what really seems to get them going the most is something with a good strong rhythm. One of our earliest discoveries in this vein, for example, was that Haydn symphonies usually seemed to please them, and the zippy last movement of pretty much any of them would really get them hopping.
Haydn symphonies, ergo, are parakeet music.
Dave just emailed me to tell me that Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring has proven to be “monster parakeet music”. Way more so, he writes, than the Firebird suite, “which they are only intermittently happy with”.
We’ve named the parakeets Maeterlinck and Rossetti (after Christina, mind you, not her brother, first because she’s a she and second because as far as I’m concerned “Goblin Market” runs rings around “The Blessed Damozel”). Explaining why they have such odd names requires a short bit of parakeet history. My first parakeet was a beautiful very dark green, and I named him Whistler, after my favorite painter, because he reminded me of the very dark green of the walls of Whistler’s Peacock Room (the banner at the top of this blog is a mural from this room, so you can see the color in the background there), and also of course I named him that because of the play on words. (Though he didn’t actually whistle all that much, being rather serious for a parakeet.)
After Dave moved in, we acquired a second parakeet, and at one point in our what-to-name-the-baby discussion, I suggested Sargent, after my second favorite painter, John Singer Sargent, so that she would continue the artist theme. And Dave said, no, we should name her Singer, so that she’ll also extend the play on words. So Singer she became.
Parakeets have died and been replaced, but after Singer we ran out of contemporary painters’ names with birdy double meanings. So we’ve just continued to name them after late 19th/early 20th century British artists of various sorts who we like (except of course for Maeterlinck, who was French, but Maeterlinck the parakeet is blue, so it seemed right anyway).