A whale of a sonata – Zoomusicology and the question of musical structures
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present article deals with the question of musical universals, as analysed from
a zoosemiotic, and zoomusicological
in particular perspective, focusing on a specific portion named “structures”.
By structures are meant the musical traits in themselves, as distinguished from
the para-musical aspects – that is behavioural
patterns related with music - and the whole psycho-emotional dimension
of music. Analysis of this structural level implies specific attention to
notions of musical organisation, form, rhythm, timbres, repetition,
compositional conventions etc. The argument implied in this analysis is that certain
‘universal’ musical features most of them, in fact, which I call transpecific traits, are not limited to thresholds of human
music. A zoomusicological perspective shows that any
qualitative distinction between the aesthetic use of sounds in human and in
other species is in principle begging the question, and appears to be the
result of a strictly behaviouristic (when not mechanistic) interpretation of
animal behaviour. Since ethnomusicology has yet to take the animal issue into
account, zoomusicology, as recent efforts in the
whole biosemiotic area, are clearly challenging both
the behaviourist and the ethnomusicology records.