Whale of a time 

In an essay at Interspecies.com, author David Rothenberg touches on millennia of human-to-animal communication through music. From ancient petroglyphs that seem to show humans conversing with whales to Indonesian gamelan performances that leave insects singing in synchrony, from old English recorder tunes written for starlings to jazz musician Paul Winter playing sax to wolf howls, Rothenberg is intrigued with music as a means for us "to learn about and appreciate the animal world."

Interspecies is a 30-year-old nonprofit group best known for bringing musicians in close proximity in the wild with whales and dolphins. But that's just one part of what they're up to. At their Web site, for instance, you can view essays and art intended to promote "an aesthetic model for coexistence between species, with the objective of healing the human species' emotional, spiritual, and cultural ties with nature."

One of their most intriguing projects is the record Belly of the Whale, available at the site. On Belly, contemporary electronic musicians — including Merzbow, Yannick Dauby and LapCore — build pieces around audio samples from the Interspecies library.

Sounds of whales and dolphins have been exciting musicians for decades now — jazz musicians like Winter and Charlie Haden, and classical composer George Crumb, for example — but the sounds from the deep may never have provided so easy a match as with today's otherworldly synthesized aesthetic. What's more, nine of the samples are available as downloadable loops for your own laptop experimenting.

W. Kim Heron is editor of Metro Times. Send comments to wkheron@metrotimes.com

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

April 21, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation