Creative Creatures

Sat, Feb 23, 2013
4 pm
Free admission

With Susane Heiter, Karl-Heinz Frommolt, David Rothenberg, Thomas Macho. Moderator: Holger Schulze
In English language

Wherein does the musical or purely sound aesthetic quality of the sounds and calls, the cries and noises made by various animals consist? Why do people wish so much that animals make music and compose, and what do we hear when we hear music in animal sounds? Is it something like when we see islands in cloud formations? What biological and neurological foundation that is more than just an anthropocentric hope and hypothesis could actually be found for an aesthetically grounded form of animal music-making? And finally, what kind of world would it be if animals never made music? Would humanoid musical culture just be a freak of nature?


Susanne Heiter studied music at Universität der Künste Berlin and organ at Vienna’s Konservatorium. She also studied biology at Universität Wien and Berlin’s Humboldt Universität. She is currently working on a doctoral thesis at UdK Berlin, entitled “Animal Sounds? On the Lines Separating Nature and Culture in Music after 1950,” in which she studies the function of material from the animal kingdom in contemporary compositions.

Karl-Heinz Frommolt directs the bio-acoustic archive, which since the 1950s has collected over 100,000 mating calls, warning signals, peeps, and other sounds. Frommolt studied in Moldavia, and Russia, and wrote his doctoral thesis on the sonic activity of the wolf. In recent years, his research has been focused on bioacoustic nature preservation monitoring, where he studies changes in wetland fauna using innovative methods.

Thomas Macho has been a professor for cultural history at Berlin’s Humboldt-Universität since 1993, where he co-founded the interdisciplinary Hermann von Helmholtz-Zentrum für Kulturtechnik. From 2006 to 2008 he served as dean (Philosophische Fakultät III, Humboldt-Universität), from 2008 to 2009 he was senior fellow at the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie, Bauhaus-Universität Weimar, and from 2009 to 2011 he served as director at the Institut für Kulturwissenschaft, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. His dissertation was entitled “Zur Dialektik des musikalischen Kunstwerks,” and his publications include Tiere, Menschen, Maschinen: Zur Kritik der Anthropologie (2013), and Das zeremonielle Tier: Rituale, Feste, Zeiten zwischen den Zeiten (2004).

David Rothenberg is a musician, composer, writer, and professor for philosophy and music and New Jersey Institute of Technology. His book Why Birds Sing? (2005) on making music with birds was filmed by the BBC. In Thousand Mile Song (2008) he explores whale song, and in 2011 his book Survival of the Beautiful: Art, Science, and Evolution was published. As a musician, Rothenberg has worked with Jan Bang, Scanner, Glen Velez, Karl Berger, Peter Gabriel, and Ray Phiri. His most recent release was in 2010, Dark Night I Left my Silent House, together with the pianist Marilyn Crispell.

Holger Schulze, the founder and head of the Sound Studies Lab and a founding member of the European Sound Studies Association, is the editor of the book series Sound Studies, the co-editor of the international journal for historical anthropology Paragrana, and writes for various journals and radio stations.Currently a guest professor at Institut für Kulturwissenschaft at the Berlin’s Humboldt Universität, Schulze has done research as part of the Nordic Research Network for Sound Studies and the program Bild Wissen Gestaltung, and co-founded the master’s degree program in sound studies at Universität der Künste Berlin.His publications include: Sound Studies (2008), Intimität und Medialität: Tektonik der Medien (2012), and Gespür, Empfindung, Kleine Wahrnehmungen: Klanganthropologische Studien (2012).

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