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A Different Kind of Tune: Manhattan Guitar School “Dives” Into Underwater Sounds

March 26, 2015 - Musical Oddities

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Manhattan Guitar School: There’s Nothing Fishy About Ocean Music!

Recently we came across a fascinating article, which shows how truly smart whales are.

As the article states, they have learned to target the boats of black cod fishermen and swipe their catch off their lines. The whales are alerted to the fact that fishing is taking place from several miles away by the sound of boat engines shifting gear. There is actually footage showing how one sneaky creature’s long jaw creates tension on the line, which, in turn, snaps fish off the hooks.

What sparked our interest in this article is not just the sheer spunkiness and undeniable intelligence of these mammals, but also the fact that they, along with many other aquatic creatures, know how to sing!

A rousing chorus

Okay, let us clarify: we don’t mean “sing” in human terms. But the fact is that deep under the ocean’s surface, there is an aquatic orchestra of different sounds.

The underwater environment is very noisy: heavy rain, volcanic activity, toadfish calls, burbles, grunts, croaks, buzzes, clicks,
and other sounds emanating from the sea can be so loud as to be audible to a human ear. According to a New York Times article, the sea reverberates with “fish barks, chatter, groans, drones, and cries.”

Do these disparate sounds fall under the category of “music?” Certainly not the kind we are used to hearing on dry land. But one definition we found describes music as “a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion.”

Perhaps we humans are not able to relate to this cacophony of noises, but who is to say that these sounds are not beautiful, harmonious, or emotional to the creatures that emit them?

The seas are alive with the sound of music

Let’s start with the aforementioned whale songs. Interestingly, a song helps a humpback male explore the seas around him and adjust to the new neighborhood: when he moves to a new place, he literally changes his tune to fit in with other nearby whales.

Then there are mating calls – songs to attract female whales. Either way, we find these haunting sounds really beautiful.

Now, let’s talk about dolphins. These friendly creatures can also belt out a tune .
They do this with their mouths open, and songs express their mood – happiness, sadness or anger (though it’s difficult to imagine a dolphin angry, they always seem to be cheerful and good natured).

What about the manatees? These creatures also communicate their feelings through squeaks, chirps, or grunts: however you want to call these sounds , it’s music to their ears!

Neither fish nor fowl

Needless to say, when our voice teachers come to your Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Riverdale home or office, they won’t teach you to squeak, chirp, grunt, or groan. While they are nature lovers and appreciate a good whale or dolphin song, you can rest assured that they will train you in HUMAN voice only.

The same goes for learning to play any instrument – the teachers will put all their “people” skills into the lessons!

Photo by unknown, available under Creative Commons License
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