How Robin wrote songs like Beethoven


What do you do A very complicated song with Tuva’s throat singing, Beethoven’s The Fifth Symphony, This song”Show yourself” from Freezing 2, And Kendrick Lamar’s “Duckworth“? according to A recent paper Published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology, Mockingbirds follow musical rules similar to those used in human music when composing songs.

“When you listen to the sound of a robin, you will hear that the bird does not just randomly string together the melody it imitates.” Co-author Tina Rosk says, A neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics. “Instead, it seems to sort similar melody segments according to consistent rules. However, in order to scientifically check this hunch, we have to use quantitative analysis to test whether the data really supports our hypothesis.”

Robin with its The ability to mimic other birds And certain sounds from the environment, provided that these sounds fall within the acoustic range of the anti-tongue bird. For example, birds can imitate blue jays but not crows, and tree frogs but not bullfrogs. More than half of Robin’s songs are imitated, and the species has an impressive repertoire consisting of hundreds of types of phrases.

For decades, there has been a lot of research on mockingbird songs, which is why scientists know that mockingbirds usually repeat each syllable three to five times, separated by tiny breaths, and then switch to something new. (“Syllable” can be a single note or a group of notes.) One 1987 research Sorting out thousands of song phrases from only four birds, the conclusion is that although there are hundreds of syllable types, most of them are not frequently generated; 25% appear only once in the sample data.

What is not well understood is how robins choose the syllables they want to sing—that is, how they create complex songs. This is not random sampling. This new research is the first attempt to limit or quantify the specific composition strategies used by mockingbirds when combining their musical styles: the so-called “deformation mode”, similar to the change of theme. To this end, the team checked the songs of five different robins; three were recorded in the wild in the middle of spring, and the other two were from the public Xeno-canto database.

The three authors all brought unique perspectives to this research. Roeske’s specialty is the statistical analysis of animal signals. David Rothernberg is a music philosopher at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, who studies the connection between music and nature. Dave Gammon is a field biologist at the University of North Carolina at Elon. He has been studying the singing of a robin (especially a bird) for many years.

“When faced with a complex robin song, the musician will hear one thing, the ornithologist will hear another thing, and the signal analyst will hear another thing,” the author said of this The reason behind the interdisciplinary approach when wrote. “The most complete human knowledge of any natural phenomenon comes from combining different forms of human cognition-no one view denies the others. They are the most powerful when applied together.

The team created a spectrogram of Robin’s song to help visualize the composition of syllables. They listened to the recording and made their own qualitative assessment of how the bird’s “transformation mode” works (transitions between phrases). In the end, they boiled everything down to the four basic composing strategies used by mockingbirds when transitioning from one sound to another: timbre change, pitch change, stretch transition, and squeeze transition. They quantified the frequencies of the four modes based on sample songs from three of the five birds used in the study, and found that about half of the distortions were based on timbre.

Admittedly, this is a simplification. “Almost every conversion involves a mixture of more than one of these modes,” the author admits. These four models are not a strict classification system, but more a heuristic tool. “Based on this, we can draw testable hypotheses,” they wrote, comparing the four models to the smallest pairs commonly used in phonology (for example, “house/mouse”, “pull/pool” and Other word pairs differ only in one phoneme).


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