Sunday, December 19, 2010
Whales: the other musical mammal
As previously alluded to on this blog, it is well known and studied that birds can be musical, that they can enjoy singing. Well, a recent study published in the journal Science credits the birds, as well as our aquatic singing relatives, the whales. The study's analysis of whale song shows that whales share some of the same acoustic techniques and follow the same laws of composition as those used by human musicians. Whale songs even contain rhyming refrains as well as similar intervals, phrases, songs durations and tones. And just as humans use rhyme, so too do whales implement rhyme as a mnemonic device to help them remember complex material. According to this particular study, the researchers state that whales physiologically have a choice: they could use arrhythmic and nonrepeating tunes, but instead, they sing.