Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

CONTENTS

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-xii

I have benefitted greatly from the help of many generous and thoughtful people while writing this book. Many mentors, colleagues, friends, and generous strangers have encouraged me to think about human and nonhuman animals during the time between my dissertation and the book you are reading now. I am particularly grateful for Suzanne Cusick’s mentorship, guidance, and inspiration concerning my questions about the relationships we build with other “others.” Jason Stanyek’s encouragement and fabulous reading recommendations gave...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-14

In 1904, American naturalist Ferdinand Schuyler Mathews wrote that he heard a song sparrow perform “La donna è mobile” from Verdi’s hit opera Rigoletto, complete with its own improvised cadenza.1 This seems like high praise for a bird, but maybe it was not. It turns out that Verdi’s aria was the kind of song critics loved to hate. One begged for the opera to be dead and buried; another thought the song embodied the “obvious and insipid” sound of mandolins in Italian restaurants.2 A nurse wrote in 1917 that it was the kind of tune she heard...

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PERSONHOOD

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pp. 15-16

The first chapter of this book surveys a series of debates about animal musicality that unfolded in print during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Europe, Great Britain, and the United States. Competing theories of evolution structured these debates around assessments of sentience. By examining the process by which evolutionary theories of music were tied to assessments of interiority, this chapter outlines a crucial context in which later studies...

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ONE Why Do Birds Sing? And Other Tales

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pp. 17-38

In 1913, Henry Oldys, a biologist working for the US Department of Agriculture, wrote enthusiastically to readers of the nation’s premier journal of bird science, The Auk, “Astonishing and revolutionary as it may seem, there is no escape from the conclusion that the evolution of bird music independently parallels the evolution of human music.”1 Born in 1859, the year Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, Oldys was part of a generation exposed to controversial new ideas about the role animals played in human social and cultural development....

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IDENTITY, DIFFERENCE, AND KNOWLEDGE

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pp. 39-40

In the following three chapters, I examine the emergence of a professional study of songs founded on notions of animal life. Spanning the period between 1900 and 1945, chapters 2, 3, and 4 examine the classification, collection, and analysis of songs to show how music became a measure of difference in the twentieth century. The intertwined prehistories of comparative zoology and experimental physiology that I described in the introduction to this book serve as...

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TWO Collecting Silence: The Sonic Specimen

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pp. 41-59

On the reverse side of this book’s title page, below the publisher’s name and thematic information, there is a string of letters and numbers. This code tells you how the book is catalogued in the Library of Congress. The world’s largest library, the Library of Congress seeks to acquire and preserve a universal collection of human knowledge.1 Since its inception in 1800, the library has acquired nearly forty million books, each organized according to topic. This book, for example, will be coded ML3900 if it is deemed to be about the social politics of music; ...

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THREE Collecting Songs: Avian and African

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pp. 60-83

The date is February 28, 1931. Somewhere in the heart of Angola, the search for biological identity is on a collision course with personal identity. Yesterday, a young woman discovered a new species of bird while out hunting specimens for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History with her husband. Together they shot two little warblers, a male and a female, who had been flitting four hundred feet apart on the slopes of Mount Moco. Today, as the woman packs away the birds’ preserved skins, she is preoccupied with another collection, her growing pile of recordings of African tribal songs. As the woman travels south that day...

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FOUR Songs on the Dissecting Table

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pp. 84-106

Dr. Hornbostel’s problem was whether knowledge was worth killing for. The issue was made simpler by the fact that human lives were not required. Instead it was the life of a song he proposed to sacrifice on the laboratory’s dissecting table: “When we laboriously dismember and disentangle the melodic thread with our scalpels—some fundamentally condemn such vivisection—we thus make the blood congeal; the living event must stiffen into an immobile corpse, at which it first becomes possible to identify the architecture of the now-intelligible whole.”1...

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POSTMODERN HUMANITY, SUBJECTIVITY, AND PARADISE

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pp. 107-108

In the final three chapters of this book, I trace the development of a disciplinary division that separated the study of human song from the study of animal voices. In that division, opposing standards of evidence emerged that located human and animal voices in separate spheres after 1945. In the study of animal voices, evidence was shaped by notions of laboratory objectivity, while in studies of human song, evidence was evaluated in relation to subjective cultural traditions. This...

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FIVE Postmodern Humanity

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pp. 109-124

A cold stone lion from Yugoslavia. Postal pigeons, carrying film during World War II. Bugs whose little black bodies are the letters of the alphabet, inspected by an illiterate child of India. The foot-and-mouth disease virus. Garuda, flying mount of Lord Vishnu and national emblem of Indonesia. A horse whose mouth is the grate of an American automobile. Palestinian sheep, bringing food to a desert wasteland.1...

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SIX Listening for Objectivity

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pp. 125-145

Being human, William Homan Thorpe and Charles Seeger were naturally suspicious of their own observations.1 It was in 1950 that the two men decided independently to buy machines to replace their own ears in the laboratory. These machines would be proxy listeners, using electronic filters to transform recorded sound into a series of electric pulses that would, in turn, move a stylus, whose quivering needle inscribed an image on a nearby rotating spool of specially prepared paper....

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SEVEN The Rose Garden

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pp. 146-167

The reception history of birdsong has yet to be written, but it will surely dwell on the audio field guide. These guides train listeners to identify birds by ear, drawing on the typological collection and classification that made sound a part of natural history in the early twentieth century. Such guides have been issued since the 1930s in the form of phonograph records, tapes, and compact discs. Today they are increasingly popular, taking the form of digital files embedded...

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Conclusion: The Animanities

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pp. 168-182

I began this book with the sound of a song sparrow. A century ago, naturalist Ferdinand Schuyler Mathews heard one of these birds singing opera tunes from Verdi’s Rigoletto. Today, ornithologists describing the same species hear a loud clanking sound.1 These are striking differences: one listener hears operatic melody, while another hears clanking. Why do these reports of the same species differ? What does it mean to claim a shared musical identity for these two sparrows in the first place? And why would two human listeners hear that identity in such different ways?...

Notes

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pp. 183-228

Bibliography

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pp. 229-252

Index

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pp. 253-266

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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pp. 267-268