In October 2000, The Times reported a study undertaken at the University of Chicago and published in the American journal Science, by Professor Daniel Margoliash, which revealed that birds practise their songs by singing in their dreams. According to the research, the brain activity of sleeping zebra finches followed a pattern similar to that created by the birds when they were singing while awake. During each dream, there were even slight changes in the patterns, as though the birds were developing variations of their original material at faster and slower speeds. The Times quoted Professor Margoliash as saying "From our data we suspect the songbird dreams of singing. The zebra finch appears to store the neuronal firing pattern of song production during the day and reads it out at night, rehearsing the song, and perhaps, improvising variations."
This piece takes these ideas as its inspiration and consists of an original statement followed by six variants, in which the clarinet plays with the material, stating it in constantly evolving forms and at different tempos.
Birds Practise Songs in Dreams was written in November 2002 and lasts approximately 9 minutes.