The Australian pied butcherbird and the natureculture continuum

Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies, 2011, 5 (1), pp. 57 - 83
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Background in zoömusicology. The discipline of zoömusicology is a pioneering enterprise that requires the collaboration of practices, methodologies, and expert knowledge from a variety of areas. Pre-existing models for such research by musicologists are either absent or at best insubstantial. The various tasks at hand include the collection of extant recordings, the observation and recording of animals in the field, sonographic examination (and notation where feasible), and various types of musicological analyses. Zoömusicology contends with the methodological and conceptual issues that arise when music theory, designed to illuminate human musical traditions (especially the Western classical one), is applied to animal song. Background in ethology. With the break with the Cartesian tradition of the animal machine, an authentic science of animal behaviour emerged over the last two centuries, evolving both conceptually and methodologically. For example, Darwin, Huxley, Haeckel, and others recognised that man is also an animal. Lorenz, von Frisch, and Tinbergen founded the field of ethology, where a major challenge remains: that of accepting that animal communication is pertinent to the realm of signification rather than merely the realm of information transmission. Aims. This paper aims to extend the range of contexts in which musicologists contribute. The paper proposes a methodology and a rationale for the study of birdsong by musicologists that, in addressing both sound and musical behaviour, could be relevant to a range of issues on the natureculture continuum.
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