Synopses & Reviews
Whale song is an astonishing world of sound whose existence no one suspected before the 1960s. Its discovery has forced us to confront the possibility of alien intelligence-not in outer space but right here on earth. Thoughtful, richly detailed, and deeply entertaining, Thousand Mile Song uses the enigma of whale sounds to open up whales’ underwater world of sonic mystery. In observing and talking with leading researchers from around the globe as they attempt to decipher undersea music, Rothenberg tells the story of scientists and musicians confronting an unknown as vast as the ocean. His search culminates in a grand attempt to make interspecies music the likes of which no one has ever heard (until, that is, they listen to the accompanying CD), by playing his clarinet with whales in their native habitats, from Russia to Canada to Hawaii.
"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The man who plays music with animals returns with a fascinating exploration of an alien intelligence in our midst: whales and their profoundly mysterious music
About the Author
David Rothenberg-philosopher and musician-is the author of Why Birds Sing, which has been published in six languages and turned into a TV documentary by the BBC; Sudden Music; Hand’s End; and Always the Mountains. His articles have appeared in Parabola, Orion, The Nation, Wired, Dwell, Kyoto Journal, and Sierra. He is the founding editor of the Terra Nova journal and book series. Rothenberg is also a composer and jazz clarinetist who has released seven CDs, one of which, On the Cliffs of the Heart, was named one of the top ten releases of 1995 by Jazziz Magazine. He lives in Cold Spring, New York.