Decoding the song of the pied butcherbird

an initial survey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

87 Downloads (Pure)


Definitions of music invoking the human cutoff point are reviewed. The pied butcherbird Cracticus nigrogularis is suggested for a zoömusicological case study on how birdsong might be like the human animal's music (whether homologous or analogous). Portamento as an impediment to "off-the-shelf" musicology in the case of birdsong analysis is discussed. It is proposed that the employment of different types and levels of description could facilitate the most fecund survey and analysis. An initial survey on how pied butcherbirds use notes, calls, and song is presented, including sonograms and standard music notation, followed by an elucidation of a repertoire of procedures found in both "music" and pied butcherbird song. It is concluded that their elaborate song culture seems to overreach biological necessity, indicating an aesthetic appreciation of sound is present in the pied butcherbird.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e1-e23
Number of pages23
JournalTrans : transcultural music review
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • zoömusicology
  • birdsong
  • pied butcherbird
  • portamento
  • sonogram
  • notation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Decoding the song of the pied butcherbird: an initial survey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this