Whale Singing is a communication mechanism, used by cetaceans to interact with each other. These incredible and acute sounds are made up of a wide variety of motifs, consisting of repeated fundamental units, which animals have the ability to associate and modular to create unique and sublime melodies that recall a dance.
A recent study by researchers at the University of Buffalo has identified a series of tests that deviate whale songs from the common association with terrestrial singing species, that is birds.
The results of the study show that the vocalizations of cetaceans, issued to communicate with other individuals, in relation to courtship, mating and intimidation of rivals, are constituted by fundamental sound units that change over time. This cetacean approach denotes a very complex vocal modulation that cannot be associated with any other known vocalization in the animal kingdom.
According to Eduardo Mercado, author of the study and professor of psychology of the College of Arts and Sciences of UB “The analyses in this article suggest that we should not think of whale songs as language or musical notes” and continuing “What
The researcher, suggesting a new approach, says “Maybe it’s about moving from thinking about whale songs as musical notes to something more free, like dance.” According to the hypothesis of this study, in fact, cetaceans are able to combine sound units, through a series of schemes, to compose the sublime ‘canto’ of these cetaceans(whose ancestor was a bloody beast
These sound constituent units, structured in changing positions and movements that give a wide spectrum of variations to the singing, change with the experience of the specimen and are incorporated in a series of complex sound expressions, which can be picked up at long distances, facilitating the association
The differences, found in whale songs of different generations, seem so marked that researchers compared them to different “musical genres,” observing that, depending on the age, cetaceans are capable of producing completely different sounds.
Focusing on the wide variety and change of whale songs, Mercado puts the focus on a question: ♪If they are changing the sounds, how do other whales make sense of those changes? Imagine that people without preparation change their language several times over a period of 10 years and all continue to understand all the others despite that variation.”
These changes seem to be of an evolutionary nature, and follow precise patterns that maintain the typical variety of intonation, even when modified. And it is precisely this sound plasticity that gives the songs their typical communicative complexity (a language that has not yet been deciphered).