David Rothenberg's Bug Music is a highly readable and eccentric investigation into an aspect of nature too easily taken for granted. Bugs produce very mathematical sounds based on natural cycles. What human ears are able to delineate is really only the tip of a very large iceberg connected to other icebergs. Delving deeply into the sounds of cicadas, crickets and katydids, Rothenberg is not afraid to suddenly go big-picture on his readers. He aims for nothing less than a direct connection between a cricket’s chirp and jazz band’s rhythm section. There is a philosophical nature to Rothenberg’s writing--he is a professor of both music and philosophy—but don’t let that scare you. He stays grounded in the science of natural musicality. While he delights in the highly technical aspects of this connection, you may find it too much, and these portions are easy to skim to get to the crux of his research. Bug Music is ultimately a lot of fun and if you don’t share Rothenberg’s enthusiasm for the intricate connections between bug sounds and human music, you will by the end.
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