Hot Best Seller

Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise

Availability: Ready to download

In the spring of 2013 the cicadas in the Northeastern United States will yet again emerge from their seventeen-year cycle—the longest gestation period of any animal. Those who experience this great sonic invasion compare their sense of wonder to the arrival of a comet or a solar eclipse. This unending rhythmic cycle is just one unique example of how the pulse and noise of In the spring of 2013 the cicadas in the Northeastern United States will yet again emerge from their seventeen-year cycle—the longest gestation period of any animal. Those who experience this great sonic invasion compare their sense of wonder to the arrival of a comet or a solar eclipse. This unending rhythmic cycle is just one unique example of how the pulse and noise of insects has taught humans the meaning of rhythm, from the whirr of a cricket’s wings to this unfathomable and exact seventeen-year beat. In listening to cicadas, as well as other humming, clicking, and thrumming insects, Bug Music is the first book to consider the radical notion that we humans got our idea of rhythm, synchronization, and dance from the world of insect sounds that surrounded our species over the millions of years over which we evolved. Completing the trilogy he began with Why Birds Sing and Thousand Mile Song, David Rothenberg explores a unique part of our relationship with nature and sound—the music of insects that has provided a soundtrack for humanity throughout the history of our species. Bug Music continues Rothenberg’s in-depth research and spirited writing on the relationship between human and animal music, and it follows him as he explores insect influences in classical and modern music, plays his saxophone with crickets and other insects, and confers with researchers and scientists nationwide. This engaging and thought-provoking book challenges our understanding of our place in nature and our relationship to the creatures surrounding us, and makes a passionate case for the interconnectedness of species.


Compare

In the spring of 2013 the cicadas in the Northeastern United States will yet again emerge from their seventeen-year cycle—the longest gestation period of any animal. Those who experience this great sonic invasion compare their sense of wonder to the arrival of a comet or a solar eclipse. This unending rhythmic cycle is just one unique example of how the pulse and noise of In the spring of 2013 the cicadas in the Northeastern United States will yet again emerge from their seventeen-year cycle—the longest gestation period of any animal. Those who experience this great sonic invasion compare their sense of wonder to the arrival of a comet or a solar eclipse. This unending rhythmic cycle is just one unique example of how the pulse and noise of insects has taught humans the meaning of rhythm, from the whirr of a cricket’s wings to this unfathomable and exact seventeen-year beat. In listening to cicadas, as well as other humming, clicking, and thrumming insects, Bug Music is the first book to consider the radical notion that we humans got our idea of rhythm, synchronization, and dance from the world of insect sounds that surrounded our species over the millions of years over which we evolved. Completing the trilogy he began with Why Birds Sing and Thousand Mile Song, David Rothenberg explores a unique part of our relationship with nature and sound—the music of insects that has provided a soundtrack for humanity throughout the history of our species. Bug Music continues Rothenberg’s in-depth research and spirited writing on the relationship between human and animal music, and it follows him as he explores insect influences in classical and modern music, plays his saxophone with crickets and other insects, and confers with researchers and scientists nationwide. This engaging and thought-provoking book challenges our understanding of our place in nature and our relationship to the creatures surrounding us, and makes a passionate case for the interconnectedness of species.

30 review for Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise

  1. 5 out of 5

    Linda Puente

    I very seldom read a hundred or more pages of a book and wonder why I am reading it. This one I did, but there were just enough tidbits of odd information to keep me turning the pages. The book begins just as I expected it would, explaining how, when, and where insects produce their songs. Interspersed in that information are snippets of poetry, ancient and modern. History, poetry, and bugs -- three of my interests all in one book. But then the author began introducing some rather weird characters I very seldom read a hundred or more pages of a book and wonder why I am reading it. This one I did, but there were just enough tidbits of odd information to keep me turning the pages. The book begins just as I expected it would, explaining how, when, and where insects produce their songs. Interspersed in that information are snippets of poetry, ancient and modern. History, poetry, and bugs -- three of my interests all in one book. But then the author began introducing some rather weird characters-- people who interact with insects in one way or another to produce entertainment. I've never been one to shy away from the weird, so I kept reading. About half way through I realized that this book is not so much about bug music as it is about people music. While I most certainly had heard of John Cage, even owned one of his early albums (one of the strangest gifts I've ever received), I haven't really kept up with the development of modern music that focuses on changing our perceptions of the differences between noise and music. I had no idea there were so many people trying to incorporate the sounds of insects into their music -- both popular and "classical". And who would have guessed that there is a whole plethora of entomologists performing music professionally? So, I read to the end. I learned a great deal about the development of synthesizers and other technology used to create music. I did learn a bit more about the bug music that had drawn me to the book originally. I can't imagine that this book will have a wide reading audience, but for those who do read it, it is worth the time invested.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Having lived in Alabama with very loud bugs at night, I appreciate that in any pre-modern soundscape, insect life would be a significant track. Rothenberg, a jazz musician, examines how insects have influenced human aesthetics--folklore that traces the stages of a human life through cicada appearances, Chinese poetry about insects, Asian connoisseurs of fighting crickets and their songs, the scientists who transcribe bug music, compositions like "Flight of the Bumble Bee" and the beautiful harmo Having lived in Alabama with very loud bugs at night, I appreciate that in any pre-modern soundscape, insect life would be a significant track. Rothenberg, a jazz musician, examines how insects have influenced human aesthetics--folklore that traces the stages of a human life through cicada appearances, Chinese poetry about insects, Asian connoisseurs of fighting crickets and their songs, the scientists who transcribe bug music, compositions like "Flight of the Bumble Bee" and the beautiful harmonic bug accompaniment that sometimes turns up on outdoor field recordings of performances.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dolly

    I wasn't sure what to expect when I borrowed this book from the library, but I did hope to learn more about the music of the insects that surround us. I have to admit that I was hoping for a more anecdotal and less scientific account, but this book offers a mixture of both. It's an entertaining book and when my eyes weren't glassed over by the numerous sonograms, graphs, diagrams, and musical scores, I was very engaged by the narrative. I learned quite a bit, but I wish that a CD was included wi I wasn't sure what to expect when I borrowed this book from the library, but I did hope to learn more about the music of the insects that surround us. I have to admit that I was hoping for a more anecdotal and less scientific account, but this book offers a mixture of both. It's an entertaining book and when my eyes weren't glassed over by the numerous sonograms, graphs, diagrams, and musical scores, I was very engaged by the narrative. I learned quite a bit, but I wish that a CD was included with the book, so I could hear the music he references throughout. The author, David Rothenberg, has produced one and even has the tracks of the CD listed in the book, but you have to purchase it separately. At least he has provided links to a website (www.bugmusicbook.com) with more information and videos (mostly of him playing music with the cicadas) as well as other sites for listeners to explore the world of insect sounds. He even offers an iTunes playlist. interesting quotes: Mark Changizi: "But one of the most salient beat-like sounds we make is when we walk, wherein our legs hit the ground over and over again in a regular repeating pattern...Natural human movement has a beat, and so music must have a beat." (p. 96) "Crickets and katydids make diverse rhythmic and tonal sounds by stridulation, where one part of the body is rubbed against another. Some rub legs against wings, wings against wings, and there is a water beetle that vibrates its own penis against his abdomen underwater to produce one of the loudest sounds made by any aniimal. Cicadas make the loudest airborne insect sounds with a tymbal in their abdomen that they vibrate to make an enormous noise." (p. 118) "I want to learn why it is that sometimes we value noise, love it for its pure power of sound, and at other times we shun it and scream as it disturbs us. This is not always a matter of personal choice, sometimes it is woven into the very fabric of our culture." (p. 162) "All of us are searching for that enveloping soundscape that takes us beyond to indescribable realms of beauty, what the Persian philosophers once called the 'sharawadji effect,' the greatest of all sonic illusions." (p. 193) Robert Henke: "...once I was barefoot at an outdoor rave in Australia, and I felt a searing pain in my toe that immediately went right up to my head, and I suddenly blacked out. 'Crikey,' said my hosts, 'you must've been bitten by a bull ant, mate.' After that I decided it was safer to stay home in Berlin and imagine such journeys." (p. 203) "I have always questioned my abilities as a teacher of music because I'm really not interested in sounding quite like anyone else, and if I'm teaching, I always ask students to create their own unique musical identities, rather than telling them how to do the job, how to make the sounds required from them that that someone might ask them to make. I'm always looking for something I've never heard before, a movement of sound that will surprise me but still remain perceptible as something musical. That's why I like music tools that do not explain themselves too readily." (p. 204) "Long before humans ever arrived, and long after we're gone, the ancient rhythm and noise of the singing insect world will live one, proving that music is in the basis and roots of continuing life. These sounds wax and wane with the temperature and the tides, and their steadfastness always reminds us that time keeps coming back upon itself, no matter how worried we are that all we love may be inadvertently destroyed. (p. 233) new words: hocketing, gamelan, lek

  4. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    I love insects, I love music. I'm a scientist & an artist (writer/musician). This is great subject matter, and the author traveled the world doing his research. He stuck to the basics, stayed focused and did a decent job of covering the insects he focuses on. However, he derides scientists throughout the book. He revels in the technology and advancements of science but doesn't care much for the people, taking a dim view of them, and mentioning as much constantly. Some of his science isn't the best I love insects, I love music. I'm a scientist & an artist (writer/musician). This is great subject matter, and the author traveled the world doing his research. He stuck to the basics, stayed focused and did a decent job of covering the insects he focuses on. However, he derides scientists throughout the book. He revels in the technology and advancements of science but doesn't care much for the people, taking a dim view of them, and mentioning as much constantly. Some of his science isn't the best either. p.122 "...sound transmitted as vibrations." Sound IS vibrations in motion, so I'm not exactly sure what he was trying to say here, but that's okay. His evolutionary biology leaves much to be desired. I wish he'd consulted a scientist about his remarks. P. 135: "Artists can dare to dream where scientists cannot..." - Then where do ideas come from for new inventions? He's so biased against scientists it makes me mad. I could go on and on, but I'll stop there. Overall, I liked the material and I found his exploits interesting, but this is someone I probably don't want to meet and I lost respect for the author given his biased against scientists.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chris Trevino

    I am a sound designer & commercial field recordist and came to this text hoping to glean some useful information about unique characteristics of different insects as well as general anecdotes and stories to be able to refer to in teaching others about nature recording. The text has a heavy concentration on cicadas, crickets and katydids and how they have evolved and adapted over the years. Rothenberg includes many interesting notions of potential historical and cultural throughlines of how insect I am a sound designer & commercial field recordist and came to this text hoping to glean some useful information about unique characteristics of different insects as well as general anecdotes and stories to be able to refer to in teaching others about nature recording. The text has a heavy concentration on cicadas, crickets and katydids and how they have evolved and adapted over the years. Rothenberg includes many interesting notions of potential historical and cultural throughlines of how insects may be the driving force behind music. At times, it seems like he can get a little fanciful with his ideas. There is quite a bit of interesting facts on the physiology and habits of different sound-producing insects. As someone with a decent background in the technical side of things, this book felt like a light read. It may not be as light for someone without a background in it. By all means, it is certainly an approachable text.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie Lubkowski

    I read his previous book on whales, and came away loathing his self-aggrandizing writing style and self-centered approach to interacting with animals. But, this book is relevant to my current project, so here we go again. And as expected, there is some great info on cicadas and other singing insects, but you do have wade through a lot of self-indulgent prose.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kurt Gottschalk

    Enjoyable read but his previous books about bird and whale songs have more grist. Listen to my interview with the author here: http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/shows/5... Enjoyable read but his previous books about bird and whale songs have more grist. Listen to my interview with the author here: http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/shows/5...

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sydney

    Completely accessible and non pretentious. The song of crickets and cicadas is a sacred thing. It does not surprise me in the least that their music is the foundation of our own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    It took me 4 years to read to page 114 and two days to read the last 128 pages. Wrong/right timing? Maybe. But also the second half of the book is much more accessible to the non-musician (I may also have decided that I didn't have to understand every single piece of information as it pertains to sound waves and dopplers and whatever else he was trying to teach me.) Although there are certainly some technical aspects to overcome for some of us, the hardest part of the book is actually the clumsy It took me 4 years to read to page 114 and two days to read the last 128 pages. Wrong/right timing? Maybe. But also the second half of the book is much more accessible to the non-musician (I may also have decided that I didn't have to understand every single piece of information as it pertains to sound waves and dopplers and whatever else he was trying to teach me.) Although there are certainly some technical aspects to overcome for some of us, the hardest part of the book is actually the clumsy writing. It reads like a non-native English speaker and Rothenberg has this way of reversing sentence structures in confusing ways. It's surprising because I've watched a lot of his videos and he is quite adept at expressing himself and his passions orally - it just doesn't seem to translate well onto the page. I also have to agree with those who feel Rothenberg inserts himself into the text a bit too much for a strictly non-fiction book. It's not all the time, but there are about half a dozen instances that feel more self-serving than they should. Despite these issues, there is a lot of very interesting information here and August is the perfect time to read it (at least here in NJ where everything is singing nightly). It's pretty cool to read a description and then try to hear it without resorting to whatever computer-based feature I would have to use in the winter months. The book if fully indexed with notes, further reading suggestions and a playlist (although the link is now dead) as well as detailed descriptions of each of the tracks for Rothenberg's companion music some of which is on YouTube or other locations online. All by way of saying, my had has been forced to give an uncharacteristic suggestion that instead of reading this book, you watch this Bug Music presentation video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_aVc... and that you get outside and listen.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    "There is one sense in which sampling an insect sound and massaging it into human music might not be the best way to enter the entomological aesthetic. Electronic synthesizers might offer an advantage over the sampler when it comes to emulating insectable noises. A sampler captures a piece of real world sound, then just transposes it as we play different instances of it from different notes. A synthesizer, an earlier technology, works differently. An electronic oscillator creates a simple tone, "There is one sense in which sampling an insect sound and massaging it into human music might not be the best way to enter the entomological aesthetic. Electronic synthesizers might offer an advantage over the sampler when it comes to emulating insectable noises. A sampler captures a piece of real world sound, then just transposes it as we play different instances of it from different notes. A synthesizer, an earlier technology, works differently. An electronic oscillator creates a simple tone, perhaps a sine, square, or sawtooth pure wave, and then it is modulated by different carrier frequencies. Sounds like engineering, I know. But this is exactly how actual insects create sounds. Or at least how scientists model their tiny insect brains creating sounds" (p. 180).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Well this book was heavy in the weeds with music. Bugs make sound, this guy likes sound. Lots of really creative people make music with bugs and study bug sound. This book will let you all about it. I enjoyed the stories about bugs and their cycles and his travels to make music with them. The charting and talking about washes of sound with lots of technical terms wasn't the best. This was for a science-y book club so I'll be interested to see what they all think about it. Well this book was heavy in the weeds with music. Bugs make sound, this guy likes sound. Lots of really creative people make music with bugs and study bug sound. This book will let you all about it. I enjoyed the stories about bugs and their cycles and his travels to make music with them. The charting and talking about washes of sound with lots of technical terms wasn't the best. This was for a science-y book club so I'll be interested to see what they all think about it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cana McGhee

    bit of a cooky read. seems to define music pretty much exclusively as rhythm, which neglects other parameters like timbre, melody, harmony, counterpoint, etc and that slippage irked me a little throughout. also asserts that these bugs only live for this rhythmic purpose, that they don’t “know” what they’re doing and just do it, as opposed to how he thinks of humans as having a conscious musicking, and im just not willing to agree with that kind of human exceptionalism. sorry not sorry

  13. 4 out of 5

    Colleen

    I enjoyed the scientific bits and the bits on cricket keeping and occasional poetry. I'd have benifitted from a greater understanding of the musical terms involved, rhythm, tone,etc. didn't have the accompanying cd, which I think would have greatly enhanced the experience I enjoyed the scientific bits and the bits on cricket keeping and occasional poetry. I'd have benifitted from a greater understanding of the musical terms involved, rhythm, tone,etc. didn't have the accompanying cd, which I think would have greatly enhanced the experience

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aaris

    If your any kind of person who is interested in the correlation between nature and music then this is the book for you, however for someone who finds reading a little strenuous then you may want to read it twice, but an excellent read with small illustrations to aid the reading.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I never found myself compelled to keep reading. Conceptually I loved the idea, being that I am a musician. I often hear the music in nature, but this book could have been a thesis paper or journal submission instead.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Caleb

    First part was really intersting.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Shel Schipper

    This was a fascinating account of how insect songs and rhythms may have influenced man's development of music. Includes thoughts on the slow 13 and 17 year rhythms of cicadas, the rapid call and response of insects in search of love, and insect songs where they adjust their timing to one another like musicians in an orchestra. This was fun and interesting. Memorable Quote: "We are all connected through the vast music of life." This was a fascinating account of how insect songs and rhythms may have influenced man's development of music. Includes thoughts on the slow 13 and 17 year rhythms of cicadas, the rapid call and response of insects in search of love, and insect songs where they adjust their timing to one another like musicians in an orchestra. This was fun and interesting. Memorable Quote: "We are all connected through the vast music of life."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Science friends, rejoice! This tome speaks your language! Music comrades, celebrate! This book has your groove all worked out. Ugh. Sorry. I get carried away too easily. This was an intriguing look at the noise around us all the time and how better to view it as music. The tangents the author took were heavy-handed at times and hard to follow at others.

  19. 4 out of 5

    C.Reider

    Smarmy, self-congratulatory, disjointed, aggrandizing, unbearable. Fuck this book, basically. (I do agree with the argument that people should pay more attention to the sounds of their surroundings, but just because the book puts that argument forward doesn't redeem it, it's a piece of shit, why am I even writing about it anymore?) Smarmy, self-congratulatory, disjointed, aggrandizing, unbearable. Fuck this book, basically. (I do agree with the argument that people should pay more attention to the sounds of their surroundings, but just because the book puts that argument forward doesn't redeem it, it's a piece of shit, why am I even writing about it anymore?)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    Bugsongs. How could I resist? Some interesting thoughts on cicadas and crickets to start out, but then it meanders around with the author's favorite insect-influenced music and his own adventures playing music with bugs, and it's all rather friendly, like a nice stoned hippie telling you stories, but he kind of goes on and on. Bugsongs. How could I resist? Some interesting thoughts on cicadas and crickets to start out, but then it meanders around with the author's favorite insect-influenced music and his own adventures playing music with bugs, and it's all rather friendly, like a nice stoned hippie telling you stories, but he kind of goes on and on.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kris Rude

    I had to quit reading after one chapter. I heard about the book on NPR and love Diane Ackerman so hoped this would be in the same vein. The idea was great and locusts are fascinating, but the writing was just plain lacking. Very disappointing.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Two stars = "It was ok" I liked the beginning and the end, but the middle was a slog through a lot of technical language and charts that I didn't really understand. That said, once I reached the end I was intrigued enough to want to find the CD that's supposed to accompany the book! Two stars = "It was ok" I liked the beginning and the end, but the middle was a slog through a lot of technical language and charts that I didn't really understand. That said, once I reached the end I was intrigued enough to want to find the CD that's supposed to accompany the book!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Very good as Rothenberg considers not only the bugs in depth, but also music and the nature of time. Very enthusiastic about what he's writing about and he passes that on. Very good as Rothenberg considers not only the bugs in depth, but also music and the nature of time. Very enthusiastic about what he's writing about and he passes that on.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Interview on Diane Rehm show 7/5/13

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    The story is very chatty and personal and fun and informative. I didn't finish it though. The story is very chatty and personal and fun and informative. I didn't finish it though.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Science For The People

    Featured on Science for the People show #230 on September 13, 2013, during an interview with author David Rothenberg. http://www.scienceforthepeople.ca/epi... Featured on Science for the People show #230 on September 13, 2013, during an interview with author David Rothenberg. http://www.scienceforthepeople.ca/epi...

  27. 4 out of 5

    JMRL

    Find it at JMRL: http://aries.jmrl.org/record=b1287709~S9 Find it at JMRL: http://aries.jmrl.org/record=b1287709~S9

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tara

    Would like to finish this some day...

  29. 4 out of 5

    Carly

    This book was so terrible that I refused to finish. Save yourself and move onto something else.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cindy Fields

    Interesting account of locusts...writing otherwise difficult to follow...

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...