Program in Acoustic Ecology and Musical Culture

The Program in Acoustic Ecology and Musical Culture is dedicated to the preservation of natural sound resources threatened by noise pollution, the archiving of musical cultures at risk of becoming extinct, and field research in neuroethology, animal communication, and biophony.

The Institute for Music & Brain Science is a cosponsor of the Artic Soundscape Project.

Ancient Instruments

Our Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal ancestors may have been as fond of music as we are. Reconstructions by Jelle Atema of (top) a 53,000-year-old hominid flute made of bear bone, (middle) a 30,000-year-old French deer bone flute, and (bottom) a 4,000-year-old French vulture bone flute.

Avian Composers

Fascinating parallels between bird song and human music, described by Luis Baptista. A spectrogram of a canyon wren's song (A), in which the syllables cascade down the musical scale, compared with (B) a portion of the score of Chopin's "Revolutionary" Etude. (C) A spectrogram of the three note "dactylic" call of the quail. (D) A section of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony illustrating the similarity of the songs of the quail and cuckoo to the refrains of the oboe and clarinet, respectively. (E) A spectrogram of the two-note call of the cuckoo, the first note pitched a major third higher than the second.

figures and text are from:
Patricia M. Gray, B. Krause, J. Atema, R. Payne, C. Krumhansl, L. Baptista (2001) The music of nature and the nature of music. Science, 291, 52-54.

click for a larger image