Do whales appreciate clarinet music? According Dr. David Rothenberg professor of Philosophy and Music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in the US, there is a definite possibility that they do. The professor, who is himself a clarinetist, embarked on a preliminary investigation in January-February 2007, when he played a live gig to a group of humpback whales off the coast of Maui, Hawai’i. The music was relayed to the humpbacks (which are renowned for their ‘singing’ abilities) via a waterproof aquatic speaker system, and the resulting ‘duets’ were recorded via hydrophones for subsequent spectrographic analysis.
“A sound spectrogram suggests that the whale may have altered his song in response to the clarinet.”
– says the professor. And the resulting paper ‘Whale Music: Anatomy of an Interspecies Duet’ was published in Leonardo Music Journal (MIT), December 2008, Vol. 18, Pages 47-53.
• A recording of the interaction (.mp3 format) can be heard here (via the professor’s dedicated website www.thousandmilesong.com)
• An alternative version of the paper (To Wail With a Whale: Anatomy of an Interspecies Duet) can be read in full here.