1.1     Background of the Study

The notion of ‘NNUNG ESSIEN’ or songbird in my locality. Songbirds are birds that have the capability of singing songs or mimicking sounds. In my area the typical songbird that is well known is Nnung Essien. A songbird means:

  • A bird having a melodious song or call.
  • A woman singer with a pleasing voice.

A songbird is a bird belonging to the clade passeri of the perching birds (Passeriformes). Another name that is sometimes seen as a Latin oscen, “a songbird”. This group contains some 4,000 species found all over the world, in which the vocal organ typically is developed in such a way as to produce a diverse and elaborate bird song. Songbirds from one of the two major lineages of extant parching birds, the other being the Tyranni which are the most diverse in the Neotropics and absent from many parts of the world. These have a simpler syrinx musculature, and while their vocalizations are often just as complex and striking as those of songbirds, they are altogether more mechanical sounding. There is a third perching bird lineage, the Acanthisitti from New Zealand, of which only two species remain alive today.

There is evidence to suggest that songbirds evolved 50 million years ago in the part of Gondwana that later became Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and Antarctica, before spreading around the world (Barker, F. K. Cibois, A. Schikler, PA. Feinstein, J & Cracraft, I. (2004). Phylogeny and diversification of the largest avian radiation.

PNAS 101(30):11040-11045) Bird vocalization includes both bird calls and bird songs. In nontechnical use, bird songs are the bird sounds that are melodious to human ear. In ornithology and birding, (relatively complex) songs are distinguished by function from (relatively simple) calls. (Sclater, PL1860)

The specie called “Nnung Essien” and is a musical/social implication. Nnung Essien is a bird that stays outside to give some pleasant or unpleasant remarks. Nnung Essien is a perching bird found in every other place but in Annang the ‘songbird’ communicates emotions of joy, anger, fear, sadness, or happiness.

According to the Macmillan dictionary, a songbird is a bird that makes a beautiful sound. According to the American heritage dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition, a songbird is a bird having a melodious song or call. A songbird is any of the various birds of the suborder Passeri (formerly oscines) of passerine birds, having syrinx with musculature that allows for the production and learning of complicated songs; an oscine. A songbird is also a woman singer with a pleasing voice. Small songbirds include warblers, wrens, kinglets, chickadees and sparrows. The songbirds comprise the largest of all bird groups in the world. Also known as Passeriformes or perching birds, because of the arrangement of their toes that allows them to grip a twig or power line, the songbirds come in many sizes. Among the largest are the ravens and crows, while thrushes such as the American robin and the raucous blue jay are medium sized songbirds are small, falling between 12 and 17cm (5 and 7 inches) in length. (Low, T. (2004), where song began: Australia’s birds and how they changed the world, Tyre: Penguin Australia. Byers, B.E. and D.E. Kroodsma (2008). Female mate choice and songbird song repertoires. The Association for the study of animal behaviour 77:13-22)

Non-verbal communication by birds and the mimicking of sweet sounds in songs and information. The songbird gives non-verbal communication. It is not only songbirds that gives non-verbal communication. The same thing with other birds. Birds communicate with one another in a variety of ways. Vocal communication by means of songs and calls is the most important way. Nearly all birds have a voice and use it to call or sing. A call usually consists of a single sound, such as squawk or peep. A song consists of a series of notes that follow a fairly definite pattern. About half the known species of birds, including nearly all perching species, produce both calls and songs. The majority of other birds, including most water birds and birds of prey, calls but do not sing. Pelicans and some kinds of storks are among the few birds that make no vocal sounds. (Charles G. Summers Jr DPI Encyclopedia B volume 2(p. 276). Birds use their calls mainly as signals to other birds. Baby birds call in one way to tell their parents that they are hungry and in another way to tell them that they are hurt or frightened. Adult birds use certain calls to signal their mates and other calls to signal the entire bird community. Community calls may warn of approaching danger. Such calls often alert birds of more than one species. (p. 276) when people think of songbirds, they usually think of canaries, nightingales, and other birds with sweet voices. However, the songs of some birds are not particularly pleasing, at least to human ears. Ravens and waxwings, for example, simply repeat the same unmusical note over and over. In most species of songbirds, only the males sing. They do so chiefly during the mating season. Each male sings from a series of perches that outlines his territory- that is, the area he claims and defends as his own. His songs, which is called an advertising song, has two main purposes: It warns other males of the same species to stay out of the territory and the song attracts a mate.

To human ears, the songs of all the birds of a particular species may sound alike. However, each bird’s voice sounds different to the other members of the species. Even in a crowded colony, parent birds can single out the voices of their chicks, and their chicks recognize those of their parents (p. 276)

People have always been fascinated by birds. Their marvelous flying ability makes them seem to be the freest of all animals. Many birds have gorgeous colors or sing sweet songs. The charms of birds have inspired poets, painters, and the composers. Certain birds also serve as symbols. For example, people have long regarded the owl as a symbol of wisdom and dove as a symbol of peace. The eagle has long been a symbol of political and military might. The bald eagle, which lives only in North America is the national symbol of the United States. Birds also played a role in the development of the airplane. Inventors built successful airplanes only after they learned to pattern the wings. (Kenneth C. Parkes. W. B. Encyclopedia (p. 250). There are about 8,600 kinds of birds. The smallest bird is the bee humming bird, which grows only about 2 inches (5 centimetres) long. The largest is the ostrich, which may grow up to 8 feet (2.4 metres) tall. Birds live in all parts of the world, from the Arctic to the tropics. They are found in Forests, deserts, and cities on graslands, farmlands, mountain, tops and islands and even in the caves. Ducks, gulls, and certain other birds always live near water. Most of such birds can swim. The outer ear is simply an opening into the inner ear and is covered with feathers. Most birds probably hear at least as well as people. Some species have extremely sensitive hearing.

A few birds depend more on their sense of hearing than on their sense of sight. These birds include the guacharo, or oilbird, of South America and several species of swift lets that live in East Indies. Encyclopedia B volume 2 (p. 287). Senses. Birds have keen senses of sight and hearing. However, their senses of smell, taste and touch are well developed (p. 286). Some birds are talented mimics. They imitate not only the calls and songs of other birds, but also other sounds in their environment, such as dog barks or factory whistles. Mockingbirds and starlings are among the most skillful bird’s mimics. Certain birds, such as parrots and mynas, become mimics only in captivity. They can then be trained to imitate human speech and even to whistle. Encyclopedia B. volume 2 (p. 276)

Some birds communicate by sounds other than vocal sounds. The loud drumming noise that woodpeckers make on tree trunks with their bill is not the same sound they produce when drilling for insects or digging a nest hole. Drumming is their substitute for an advertising song. Each species of woodpecker has its own drumming rhythms. The male ruffed grouse produces a low drumming sound by beating his wings rapidly. This sound, which carries across long distances, also serves as an advertising song. Male and female storks clatter their bills at one another during their courtship. (Charles G. S. Encyclopedia B. (p. 276)


1.2     Statement of the problem

A songbird is a wild bird that can only be found in the forest, mountain tops, and on tree tops close to people’s houses.

It is difficult or impossible to get the lyrics of the song by songbirds. One may enjoy the melodious song by songbirds but can never know the meaning. It takes wisdom to trace or decipher the melodic alliteration of the songs rendered by birds are the background of the spoken language. Solomon the wisest man in the bible deciphered and encoded many songs from songbirds.

Ecclesiastes chapter 12: 4

And he shall rise up at the voice of the bird and all the daughters of music shall be brought low.

Musicians also attempt to encode those sounds on their musical instruments. Children too mimic the sound from birds in their environment. Certain birds can sing songs which you can mimick based on the knowledge of alliteration. A literary study with a performance background attempts the encoding of the sound of Nnung Essien to give it its pride of place among the Annang women. To learn from a songbird is a problem since it is impossible for a songbird to repeat its song when required.

We can only get the vocals from the songbird but not the actual performance.

1.3     Purpose of the Study

This research aims to:

  • Unravel the wonders of nature through a songbird.
  • Showcase the ability of a songbird portraying the feelings of women in a state of melancholy.
  • Reveal the ability of singing with emotions to captivate the audience.
  • Eliminate fear and bring positive emotion to the vocal music performance.
  • Explore the values of music both to man and animal.


1.4     Significance of the study

This research work will:

  • Serve as learning materials to students, academics and music performers.
  • Help the vocal music performers to decipher between ordinary singing and “singing with emotion”.
  • Unveil the career of singing as the major thing in the entertainment industry.

Be of great importance to singers/vocalists who seek to improve in order to give the best to the audience