David Rothenberg

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Musician and philosopher David Rothenberg is the author of Why Birds Sing (Basic Books and Penguin UK), also published in Italy, Spain, Taiwan, China, Korea, and Germany. In 2006 it was turned into a feature-length TV documentary by the BBC. Rothenberg has also written Sudden Music, Blue Cliff Record, Hand’s End, and Always the Mountains. His writings have appeared in at least eleven languages. His latest book Whale Music (Terra Nova/MIT Press), about making music with whales, comes out in February 2023

As a musician Rothenberg has performed and recorded with Jan Bang, Scanner, Glen Velez, Suzanne Vega, Peter Gabriel, Ray Phiri, Pauline Oliveros, Benedicte Maurseth, and the Karnataka College of Percussion. His album, One Dark Night I Left My Silent House, a duet with pianist Marilyn Crispell, came out on ECM in 2010. Bug Music, came out 2013, along with a CD of the same name featuring music made out of encounters with the entomological world. His book, CD, film is Nightingales in Berlin, published in 2019. It is also available in German and will soon appear in French. The German audiobook version is read by the acclaimed actress Eva Mattes. His album with Maori musician Rob Thorne Faultlines came out in 2021. Rothenberg has been profiled on Radiolab and in the New Yorker. He has more than forty albums out under his own name. Recent live performances have include the Philharmonie Paris, Philharmonie Berlin, House of World Cultures Berlin, Biotopia Senses Festival Munich, Birdlife Slovenia Lubljana, and an upcoming sound installation this year at the Venice Architecture Biennale at the Palazzo Bembo. Earlier museum installations have included the Science Gallery Detroit and the Museum of Natural History in Bergen, Norway.

Working together with a team of scientists Rothenberg has contributed to the detailed decoding of the mockingbird’s song. As an interpreter of science he has written feature multimedia stories on cicada music for the New York Times and whale music for National Geographic, and he is currently working on a book and album called Secret Sounds of Ponds, while actively exploring new genres of music from around the world and seeking ever more far-flung musical and scientific collaborators.

Rothenberg is distinguished professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology.


Article by David

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