White breasted wood wren sings Beethoven's 5th.
April 28, 2000 10:49 PM   Subscribe

White breasted wood wren sings Beethoven's 5th. Science News ran a fascinating article comparing and contrasting human and animal music. Thanks to www.girlhacker.com for the heads-up.
posted by Lynsey (5 comments total)
It's a fascinating article indeed, but I'd be interested to know if anyone listened to the supplied .wav file of the wren and recognised Beethoven's 5th? Despite repeated listens (and comparisons to B5, which the article thoughtfully includes a .wav of also) I just couldn’t hear the similarity.

posted by Georgina at 6:02 AM on April 29, 2000

Yeah, I think it's there. Twice you hear it in the clip, the signature "dum dum dum dum"
posted by ericost at 9:04 AM on April 29, 2000

Wow, I remember way back reading in a Ripley's Believe it or Not book (anybody remember these?) that there was a bird where Beethoven lived as a child that had a call exactly like the beginning of the symphony.
posted by icathing at 10:51 AM on April 29, 2000

Interesting... I've been reading Susan Blackmore's book on memes, The Meme Machine, and she points at birdsong as one of the (very few) animal behaviors that is transmitted memetically. Strangely enough, she also refers to the first four notes of Beethoven's Symphony-- she points at it as an example of a meme that is incredibly successful, and also points out that "using the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth as an illustration of memes" is, in and of itself, a successful meme (complete with citation). Just seemed to connect.
posted by jbushnell at 11:22 AM on April 29, 2000

Along the same lines, has anyone noticed that birds in urban areas seem to be imitating car alarms? I'd swear that I've heard birds singing the same sequence as that irritating alarm that plays back a variety of siren sounds. Sometimes I hear it very distinctly and I've pointed it out to others, other times the birdsong only hints at a car alarm and I question my own sanity. It makes sense to me, what better for a bird to imitate than the biggest and loudest sound around. But it also disturbs me, as these birds seem to be loosing the memes that have been passsed along for hundreds of years to the noise polution inherent in a city.
posted by mutagen at 10:28 AM on May 1, 2000

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