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In the spring of 2013 the cicadas will return on their seventeen year cycle – the longest gestation period of any animal. Their deafening sound upon their arrival is familiar to most Americans. Cicadas are famous throughout the world for the "song" – created by the males, and distinctive to each species. When they arrive, cicadas become the backbeat of summer – they like heat and do their most spirited singing during the hotter hours of a summer day. They are one unique example of how the rhythm of insects taught humans the meaning of rhythm, from the whirr of a cricket's wings to this long, unfathomable, exact seventeen year beat.
In looking at cicadas, as well as other humming, clicking, and thrumming insects, Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise 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. 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: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise continues Rothenberg's research and writing on the relationship between human and animal music, and it follows him as he explores the exotic insect markets in Shanghai, plays his saxophone with crickets and other insects, and confers with researchers and scientists nationwide.
Philosopher and jazz musician David Rothenberg is professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and the author of Survival of the Beautiful, Why Birds Sing, and Thousand Mile Song. He lives in the Hudson Valley, New York.
"Bug Music is a cool groove of biology, music, and human culture from an interspecies musician and scholar fully in tune with nature. It is engaging, wide-ranging, and profound in suggesting that the thrum of insects is a primordial musical beat. This book is for everyone who has ever marveled at nature or delighted in the sounds of her insect choirs, and especially for those who have done neither."
– John Marzluff, author of Dog Days, Raven Nights and Gifts of the Crow
"I loved this book. It's inspiring, fascinating, and funny. Bug Music is a foray into another world."
– Bernd Heinrich, author of Mind of the Raven and Winter World
"Fabulous entomological jazz: David Rothenberg draws together disparate strands of inspiration and writes a new song, full of unexpected riffs and harmonies. Bug Music is a thought-provoking celebration of the acoustic bonds between humans and our insect cousins."
– David George Haskell, author of The Forest Unseen
"Charmingly conversational, filled with wondrous facts and touching personal reflections, Bug Music will make you think differently about bugs, about music, and about the intersection of the two."
– Marlene Zuk, author of Sex on Six Legs and Paleofantasy
"A veritable tour de force of delightful and provocative meanderings that circle about, crisscross, and combine to illuminate the primal connection between insect sound and the human sense of rhythm, music, and noise."
– Lang Elliott, musicofnature.com, author of The Songs of Insects
"As a musician and a scientist, I was fascinated by the parallels between the songs of the cicada and the human. Rothenberg is a great conductor in Bug Music, bringing out the melodies and harmonies, and exposing the mysteries, in the great insect orchestra that surrounds us. A must read for all who question and seek our place in nature."
– Daniel Chamovitz, author of What a Plant Knows