Connecting interdisciplinary dots: Songbirds, 'white rats' and human exceptionalism

Hollis Taylor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


In this article I investigate how and why birdsong is regularly excluded from definitions of music. I argue that to claim human exceptionalism for this capacity is highly premature, since so few avian species have been investigated in any depth. A catalogue of objections to the contention that birdsong is music suggests numerous intra- and inter-disciplinary 'disconnects'. I note that the default yardstick of Western art music is pervasive and that many researchers cling to the nature/culture divide despite recent activity framing natureculture as a continuum. I conclude by suggesting that the time has come to abandon our uncritical preference for human capacities and open ourselves (and our respective disciplines) to the possibility of creativity and agency in nonhuman others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-306
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Science Information
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • birdsong
  • cassican à gorge noire
  • chants d'oiseaux
  • éthologie
  • ethology
  • exception humaine
  • human exceptionalism
  • music
  • musique
  • natureculture
  • pied butcherbird
  • zoömusicology
  • zoomusicologie


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