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Whale Song: A Workshop

October 30, 2018 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

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“The greatest amount of change appears when singing is most pervasive and the effort of each singer is most intense.”
— Katy Payne

Since they were first recorded by hydrophones in the late 1960s, the haunting songs of humpback whales have been objects of human inquiry. These “long, complexly organized patterns of sounds,” which include, “the highest and lowest frequencies that humans can hear,” are shared between whales, and sung seasonally, with differences arising as the songs repeat over time.

We do not know precisely why the whales sing. But as Katy Payne, an acoustic biologist and preeminent scholar of humpback whale song, observed in 1985, “we have not yet been able to discover any ‘leaders’…. [It is] as though decisions on how the song should change were made democratically.”

Co-led by vocalist, composer, and cantor Daniela Gesundheit and media scholar Sarah Kessler, this workshop will facilitate an environment within which a primary experience of the compositional techniques and structures at play in humpback whale song can emerge. Together, we will employ leaderless collaboration and experimentation to examine and illuminate the vocalizations of the world’s largest broadcasting mammals, and to see what we might discover about group identity, distance, competition, innovation, and empathy in the process.

After a presentation and discussion of the key insights uncovered by Katy Payne’s groundbreaking research, we will put our own voices to work, apprenticing ourselves to the songs of these masterful composers. All voices welcome.

While this event is free to attend, space is limited: email for RSVP: info@humanresourcesla.com

October 30, 2018
6:00 pm - 9:00 pm