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May 21st, 2009
Music and Evolution
Ofer Tchernichovski on Bird's Songs
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Ofer Tchernichovski: For the male has nice colors and they can sing, and the female is grey and she cannot sing, they don’t even have a song system in their brain. This is a completely different brain. This brain is the brain that creates the songs, whereas this brain is the brain that judges the song. Their selecting males are also based on how beautiful and nice the songs are. So there is a transmitter brain and a receiver brain.

Let’s put them back.

I don’t know if bird song and music songs are the same but I think they share something. David Rothenberg will tell you that bird song is music. And I tend to agree on a personal level that the songs are very beautiful, they’re very appealing, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. But what is it? You can come up with an explanation that songs just as a function…female or tutor other birds in the territory. I’m not so much interested in those questions.  I’m much more interested in how the songs come about, how the songs develop. And I’m interested in it because songs are so wonderful.

So here you see is a plastic bird with a speaker inside it. And we can play sounds from that bird and get him to interact with the flight bird. And you can teach the bird to sing using this robotic hand-controlled bird

So here we developed software that record all the sounds that the bird sing. You can see here on the monitor you can see the bird calling and singing right here, something in real time right there. Each of those computer is controlling eight of those training boxes independently. And you can see here the specter analysis of those songs. But doing all of this together allows us to look at every sound they ever make. So you can look at an entire development of a bird song and ask what happened to those sounds?

So we can look at the entire process of song development. And that’s very, very useful because we can then get an image of an entire song development.

  • roger phenix

    Whoever transcribed this did not understand what Tchernichovski: was saying. The transcript is incorrect. On a website about sound, the transcription should be checked before sending it out?

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  • Ginny Atherton

    I agree that listening to the narrative gives a different sense than the (computer-generated?) transcription.

  • eva sing

    I think it’s nice that the transcription accurately transcribed his speech and didn’t adjust for what native English speakers would expect.

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    what species of bird was used on this study?

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