In Thousand Mile Song, musician and philosopher David Rothenberg uses the enigma of whale sounds to explore whether we can truly understand nonhuman minds. Interviewing scholars around the world as they attempt to decipher underwater music, Rothenberg tells the story of scientists and artists confronting an unknown as vast as the ocean. Along the way, he plays his clarinet live with whales in their native habitats, from Russia to Hawaii, making interspecies music that appears on the included CD. Richly detailed and deeply entertaining, Thousand Mile Song is an imaginative look at the most intriguing creatures of the ocean.read more
I did not find this book about whale songs and sounds as gripping as Rothenberg's but the CD of his jams with whales is just as amazing as the CD of his jams with birds. The book includes a lot more personal story and a lot less science, probably because we know much more about birds than we do about whales. What facts Rothenberg relates are fascinating, however, and the music is worth the price of the book.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
No rating provided
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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved