Decoding the song of the pied butcherbird: An initial survey

Sociedad de Etnomusicologia
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Transcultural Music Review, 2008, 12 (art13), pp. 1 - 30
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Definitions of music invoking the human cutoff point are reviewed. The pied butcherbird Cracticus nigrogularis is suggested for a zoömusicological case study on how birdsong might be like the human animals music (whether homologous or analogous). Portamento as an impediment to off-the-shelf musicology in the case of birdsong analysis is discussed. It is proposed that the employment of different types and levels of description could facilitate the most fecund survey and analysis. An initial survey on how pied butcherbirds use notes, calls, and song is presented, including sonograms and standard music notation, followed by an elucidation of a repertoire of procedures found in both music and pied butcherbird song. It is concluded that their elaborate song culture seems to overreach biological necessity, indicating an aesthetic appreciation of sound is present in the pied butcherbird.
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