Biologists know that whale songs, which may carry for hundreds of miles, change over time and are passed on from one generation to the next, but they don't fully understand what these complex sounds are for. Philosopher and musician Rothenberg (Why Birds Sing ) proposes that music played by humans can help us find answers. He tested this theory by playing his clarinet into an underwater speaker and recording the whales' responses on an underwater hydrophone. His intriguing book includes sonograms and a CD demonstrating that the orcas, belugas and humpbacks he played for seemed to interact with his music. He also includes much information about whales and accounts of attempts to discover rhythm, shape and form in their songs; colorful descriptions of the whale scientists he has worked with; and a chapter on composers who have incorporated whale songs in their pieces. As Rothenberg points out, it was a recording of whale songs in the 1970s that led to the whale conservation movement. His paean to the beautiful music these great mammals make should lend further support to attempts to save the whales at a time when they are increasingly threatened. Illus. and CD. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Thousand Mile Song: Whale Music in a Sea of Soundby David Rothenberg
For centuries, no one thought to suspect that humpback whale song was lingering in our seas. But its discovery has inspired many to contemplate underwater intelligence. By consulting with leading researchers around the globe, philosopher and musician David Rothenberg tells the story of encountering an unexplored world of music as vast as the ocean. Through this
For centuries, no one thought to suspect that humpback whale song was lingering in our seas. But its discovery has inspired many to contemplate underwater intelligence. By consulting with leading researchers around the globe, philosopher and musician David Rothenberg tells the story of encountering an unexplored world of music as vast as the ocean. Through this journey, Rothenberg uses the enigma of whale sounds to examine the question of whether we can ever truly understand nonhuman minds.
In its combination of science, music, and narrative, Thousand Mile Song is an exceptionally insightful and imaginative attempt at understanding some of the most intriguing creatures with whom we share our planet.
Exploring the connections between human and animal intelligence, Rothenberg (philosophy & music, New Jersey Inst. of Technology; Why Birds Sing) has played his clarinet to communicate with whales in Canada, Russia, and Hawaii aboard boats equipped with microphones, underwater speakers, hydrophones, and headphones. His belief that "we are not the only musicians on the planet" has been reinforced through a study of the sound patterns and rhythms resulting from the whales' responses. The accompanying CD is an unusual mixture of songs, cries, gurgles, and clicks combined with the author's clarinet, guitar, percussion, and violin played by other musicians. Rothenberg traces the history of whale-sound research from the navy's interest in the 1950s through the work of Roger Payne, who produced the 1970 recording Songs of the Humpback Whale. He attributes the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act in 1972 to the growing popular consciousness of whale intelligence; ironically, however, this act considers playing music to whales a form of harassment. Enhanced by acoustic diagrams and a fine bibliographical essay as well as bibliographical footnotes, this intriguing book will capture the imaginations of music and nature lovers and is suitable for high school, public, and college libraries.
Judith B. Barnett
- Basic Books
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- First Trade Paper Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 5.70(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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Meet the Author
David Rothenberg is Professor of Philosophy and Music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the author of books including Why Birds Sing. His articles have appeared in Parabola, The Nation, Wired, Dwell, and Sierra. He lives in Cold Spring, New York.
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