Zoomusicology is a field of musicology and zoology or more specifically, zoosemiotics. Zoomusicology is the study of the music of animals, or rather the musical aspects of sound or communication produced and received by animals.

Zoomusicology may be distinguished from ethnomusicology, the study of human music. Zoomusicology is most often biomusicological, and biomusicology is often zoomusicological.


Ibn al-Haytham's "Treatise on the Influence of Melodies on the Souls of Animals" in the 11th century was the earliest treatise dealing with the effects of music on animals. In the treatise, he demonstrates how a camel's pace could be hastened or retarded with the use of music, and shows other examples of how music can affect animal behaviour and animal psychology, experimenting with horses, birds and reptiles. Through to the 19th century, a majority of scholars in the Western world continued to believe that music was a distinctly human phenomenon, but experiments since then have vindicated Ibn al-Haytham's view that music does indeed have an effect on animals. [Harv|Plott|2000|p=461]

Zoomusicologist Dario Martinelli describes the subject of zoomusicology as the "aesthetic use of sound communication among animals." George Herzog (1941) asked, "do animals have music?" François-Bernard Mâche's "Musique, mythe, nature, ou les Dauphins d'Arion" (1983), includes a study of "ornitho-musicology" using a technique of Nicolas Ruwet's "Langage, musique, poésie" (1972), paradigmatic segmentation analysis, shows that bird songs are organized according to a repetition-transformation principle. One purpose of the book was to “begin to speak of animal musics other than with the quotation marks” (Mâche 1992: 114), and he is credited by Dario Martinelli with the creation of zoomusicology ( [http://www.zoosemiotics.helsinki.fi/zm/] ).

Animal music

In the opinion of Jean-Jacques Nattiez (1990), "in the last analysis, it is a human being who decides what is and is not musical, even when the sound is not of human origin. If we acknowledge that sound is not organized and conceptualized (that is, made to form music) merely by its producer, but by the mind that perceives it, then music is uniquely human." According to Mâche, "If it turns out that music is a wide spread phenomenon in several living species apart from man, this will very much call into question the definition of music, and more widely that of man and his culture, as well as the idea we have of the animal itself." (Mâche 1992: 95)

In music

Shinji Kanki composes music for dolphins according to conventions found in dolphin music or found to please dolphins in his "Music for Dolphins (Ultrasonic Improvisational Composition) for underwater ultrasonic loudspeakers" (2001).

Composers have evoked or imitated animal sounds in compositions including Jean-Philippe Rameau's "The Hen" (1728), Camille Saint-Saëns's "Carnival of the Animals" (1886), Olivier Messiaen's "Catalogue of the Birds" (1956-58) and Pauline Oliveros's "El Relicario de los Animales" (1977) [cf. Von Gunden 1983, p.133] . Other examples include Alan Hovhaness's "And God Created Great Whales" (1970), George Crumb's "Vox Balaenae" (Voice of the Whale) (1971) and Gabriel Pareyon's "Invention over the song of the Vireo atriccapillus" (1999) and "Kha Pijpichtli Kuikatl" (2003).

The icaros (sacred healing songs and chants) sung by ayahuasca healers, or shamanic practitioners, among Amazonian tribes are evocative of many of the sounds of birds, animals and insects of the jungle.



*Nattiez, Jean-Jacques (1987). Music and Discourse: Toward a Semiology of Music (Musicologie générale et sémiologue, 1987). Translated by Carolyn Abbate (1990). ISBN 0-691-02714-5.
* [http://www.zoosemiotics.helsinki.fi/zm/ Martinelli, Dario. Zoomusicology]
title=Global History of Philosophy: The Period of Scholasticism
publisher=Motilal Banarsidass

*Von Gunden, Heidi (1983). "The Music of Pauline Oliveros". ISBN 0-8108-1600-8.

ee also

*Bird song
*Vocal learning
*Whale song

External links

* [http://www.zoosemiotics.helsinki.fi/zm/ Zoomusicology site by Dario Martinelli] under construction

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