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Why Birds Sing: A Journey into the Mystery of Birdsong Hardcover – 23 Mar 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; export ed edition (23 Mar. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 046507135X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465071357
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,580,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"Sudden Music is a cross between Miles Davis and Arne Naess, Philip Glass, and Gary Snyder, Brian Eno and Henry David Thoreau, John Cage and James Lovelock."


A beautiful and surprising exploration of a phenomenon that's at once familiar and baffling: the mystery of why birds sing The astonishing variety and richness of bird song is both an aesthetic and scientific mystery. Evolutionists have never been able to understand why bird song displays are often so inventive and why so many species devote so many hours to singing - or why other species don't. The standard explanations, which generally have to do with territoriality and sexual display, don't begin to account for the astonishing variety and energy that the commonest birds exhibit. Aesthetically, bird song is strange, alien, and weirdly beautiful in ways that humans can hardly understand let alone replicate. Is it possible that birds sing because they like to? This seemingly naive explanation is starting to look more and more like an unsettling truth. In the tradition of classic works by Bernd Heinrich, Edward Abbey, and Terry Tempest Williams, Why Birds Sing is a lovely exploration of birdsong that blends the latest scientific research with a deep understanding of musical beauty and form.

Based on conversations with neuroscientists, ecologists, and composers, it will be the first book to investigate why birds sing and how, and what effect their music has on other animals - particularly humans. David Rothenberg approaches the subject as a naturalist, philosopher, and musician, investigating the mysteries of bird song with scientists working at the cutting edge of animal music and cognition, and with acoustic explorers recording the sounds themselves in many of the world's vanishing wild places. A naturalist's journey into the secret world of birdsong, Why Birds Sing also offers deep insight into the origin of music and its practice and enjoyment by humans.

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