Learning from the musical minds of whales
In collaboration with New York-based Duo Helix (Eric Umble on clarinet and Izzy Gleicher on flute), our project investigates modes of composition in the songs of humpback whales. Entitled Song Sessions, we seek a dialogue between science, the arts and social activism through this project.
Song Sessions seeks to establish the connection between whale and human music. Humpback whales, the most innovative of the baleen whales, sing with a particular sequence of units. These sounds and their order are varied over time, producing new song material. Through innovation, a new idea is accepted or rejected by the collective body of whales. Over the course of twenty years, the song can become totally different altogether. These studies have provided a window into the creative world of another mammal, one that deals with innovation and memory just as our own.