Is Birdsong Music?

Is Birdsong Music? : Outback Encounters with an Australian Songbird

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Description

How and when does music become possible? Is it a matter of biology, or culture, or an interaction between the two? Revolutionizing the way we think about the core values of music and human exceptionalism, Hollis Taylor takes us on an outback road trip to meet the Australian pied butcherbird. Recognized for their distinct timbre, calls, and songs, both sexes of this songbird sing in duos, trios, and even larger choirs, transforming their flute-like songs annually. While birdsong has long inspired artists, writers, musicians, and philosophers, and enthralled listeners from all walks of life, researchers from the sciences have dominated its study. As a field musicologist, Taylor spends months each year in the Australian outback recording the songs of the pied butcherbird and chronicling their musical activities. She argues persuasively in these pages that their inventiveness in song surpasses biological necessity, compelling us to question the foundations of music and confront the remarkably entangled relationship between human and animal worlds. Equal parts nature essay, memoir, and scholarship, Is Birdsong Music? offers vivid portraits of the extreme locations where these avian choristers are found, quirky stories from the field, and an in-depth exploration of the vocalizations of the pied butcherbird.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 364 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 27.94mm | 658g
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 13 b&w illus., 34 music exx.
  • 0253026202
  • 9780253026200

Table of contents

Foreword by Philip Kitcher
1. An Outback Epiphany
2. Songbird Studies
3. The Nature of Transcription and the Transcription of Nature
4. Notes and Calls: A Taste for Diversity
5. Song Development: A Taste for Complexity
6. Musicality and the Art of Song: A Taste for Beauty
7. Border Conflicts at Music's Definition
8. Facts to Suit Theories
9. Too Many Theories and Not Enough Birdsong
10. Songbirds as Colleagues and Contemporaries
Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Glossary
Notation and Supplement Conventions
Bibliography
Index
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Review quote

Is Birdsong Music? is an absorbing and delightfully written field diary as much as it is a technical analysis of sound and a philosophical discussion of the concept of music . . . Hollis Taylor's book encourages us to recognise the importance and interconnectedness of all species. She challenges the dominant view that humans represent the pinnacle of all life and can act independently of the environment. The cultural connection between species is integral to environmental connection. * RealTime * Is Birdsong Music?, a ground-breaking study of the songs of the pied butcherbird, is intellectually engaging and also very entertaining as a fieldwork memoir. * The Music Trust *
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About Hollis Taylor

Hollis Taylor is Research Fellow at Macquarie University. A violinist/composer, ornithologist, and author, her work confronts and revises the study of birdsong, adding the novel reference point of a musician's trained ear.
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Rating details

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