Episode 0073: Patricia Gray on BioMusic, The New Science of Our Musical Brains & Biosphere
Patricia Gray is an animal music researcher, working with all kinds of creatures (humans, whales, songbirds, bonobos, even coral reefs) to understand what functions pitch and rhythm have in animal communication, how the sound of our living planet is actually a symphony of hidden meaning, and how to improve our lives by embracing the innate musicality of our human brains.


We Discuss:

• How she went from being a concert pianist to the chamber music director for the National Academy of Sciences to the piano-playing lead of a National Science Foundation-funded research lab;

• How our understanding of animal communication has shifted over the last few decades from using human language to using music as the orienting metaphor;

• The evolution of (and scientific study of the evolution of) music-making in our species;

• Pitch discrimination, beat entrainment, and musical memory (rhythm and frequency pattern detection, musical memory and capacity for repetition);

• How human conversations rely on musical intelligence for us to flow together and follow and “jam” with each other;

• The cultural origins of “biomusic” as a scientific discipline;

• Making music with bonobo apes at the Georgia Tech animal communication lab;

• Dancing sea lions and cockatoos;

• Why do and don’t some animals learn to find the beat?;

• Which came first, music or language?;

• Harmonized sonic environments and acoustic ecology attuned to the biome (disrupted);

• How human technology and civilization has disrupted animal communication in the wild AND human (and pet) psychology at home;

• The songs of elephants, mice, bats, and other inaudible “songsters” revealed by new microphones;

• Whalesong! Analyzing the musical structure of cetacean communication and seasonal songs;

• Human babies are musical animals! The science of neonatal musical cognition;

• The uncanny similarity of whale and human musical systems…what does this suggest about an underlying mathematical order to the cosmos?

• Understanding the oceans through a combination of reef hydrophones and machine learning;

• Letting the wild back into music and society… 

• And why it’s essential to teach children music!

See Also:

Bernie Krause, Roger Payne, Mark Tramo, Peter Cook, Ani Patel

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