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Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise
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Bug Music: How Insects Gave Us Rhythm and Noise

3.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  75 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
In the spring of 2013 the cicadas in the Northeastern United States will yet again emerge from their seventeen-year cycle—the longest gestation period of any animal. Those who experience this great sonic invasion compare their sense of wonder to the arrival of a comet or a solar eclipse. This unending rhythmic cycle is just one unique example of how the pulse and noise of ...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published April 16th 2013 by St. Martin's Press
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I wasn't sure what to expect when I borrowed this book from the library, but I did hope to learn more about the music of the insects that surround us.

I have to admit that I was hoping for a more anecdotal and less scientific account, but this book offers a mixture of both. It's an entertaining book and when my eyes weren't glassed over by the numerous sonograms, graphs, diagrams, and musical scores, I was very engaged by the narrative.

I learned quite a bit, but I wish that a CD was included wi
Linda Puente
I very seldom read a hundred or more pages of a book and wonder why I am reading it. This one I did, but there were just enough tidbits of odd information to keep me turning the pages.

The book begins just as I expected it would, explaining how, when, and where insects produce their songs. Interspersed in that information are snippets of poetry, ancient and modern. History, poetry, and bugs -- three of my interests all in one book.

But then the author began introducing some rather weird characters
Margaret Sankey
Having lived in Alabama with very loud bugs at night, I appreciate that in any pre-modern soundscape, insect life would be a significant track. Rothenberg, a jazz musician, examines how insects have influenced human aesthetics--folklore that traces the stages of a human life through cicada appearances, Chinese poetry about insects, Asian connoisseurs of fighting crickets and their songs, the scientists who transcribe bug music, compositions like "Flight of the Bumble Bee" and the beautiful harmo ...more
Jun 29, 2014 Aaron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reference
I love insects, I love music. I'm a scientist & an artist (writer/musician). This is great subject matter, and the author traveled the world doing his research. He stuck to the basics, stayed focused and did a decent job of covering the insects he focuses on.

However, he derides scientists throughout the book. He revels in the technology and advancements of science but doesn't care much for the people, taking a dim view of them, and mentioning as much constantly.

Some of his science isn't the
Kurt Gottschalk
Enjoyable read but his previous books about bird and whale songs have more grist. Listen to my interview with the author here:
Stefanie Lubkowski
I read his previous book on whales, and came away loathing his self-aggrandizing writing style and self-centered approach to interacting with animals. But, this book is relevant to my current project, so here we go again. And as expected, there is some great info on cicadas and other singing insects, but you do have wade through a lot of self-indulgent prose.
Jul 30, 2014 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bugsongs. How could I resist? Some interesting thoughts on cicadas and crickets to start out, but then it meanders around with the author's favorite insect-influenced music and his own adventures playing music with bugs, and it's all rather friendly, like a nice stoned hippie telling you stories, but he kind of goes on and on.
Nov 30, 2014 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Too repetitive -- if I don't reach my goal, this book is the reason why.
Dec 21, 2015 Carly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was so terrible that I refused to finish. Save yourself and move onto something else.
Shel Schipper
This was a fascinating account of how insect songs and rhythms may have influenced man's development of music. Includes thoughts on the slow 13 and 17 year rhythms of cicadas, the rapid call and response of insects in search of love, and insect songs where they adjust their timing to one another like musicians in an orchestra. This was fun and interesting.
Memorable Quote:
"We are all connected through the vast music of life."
Jan 24, 2015 C.reider rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Smarmy, self-congratulatory, disjointed, aggrandizing, unbearable. Fuck this book, basically.

(I do agree with the argument that people should pay more attention to the sounds of their surroundings, but just because the book puts that argument forward doesn't redeem it, it's a piece of shit, why am I even writing about it anymore?)
Nov 03, 2013 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Two stars = "It was ok" I liked the beginning and the end, but the middle was a slog through a lot of technical language and charts that I didn't really understand. That said, once I reached the end I was intrigued enough to want to find the CD that's supposed to accompany the book!
Kris Rude
Dec 30, 2013 Kris Rude rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to quit reading after one chapter. I heard about the book on NPR and love Diane Ackerman so hoped this would be in the same vein. The idea was great and locusts are fascinating, but the writing was just plain lacking. Very disappointing.
Jun 08, 2013 Jeremy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Very good as Rothenberg considers not only the bugs in depth, but also music and the nature of time. Very enthusiastic about what he's writing about and he passes that on.
Science For The People
Featured on Science for the People show #230 on September 13, 2013, during an interview with author David Rothenberg.
Jul 26, 2013 Marilyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The story is very chatty and personal and fun and informative. I didn't finish it though.
Cindy Fields
Interesting account of locusts...writing otherwise difficult to follow...
Dec 04, 2015 Tara marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Would like to finish this some day...
Jul 05, 2013 Sarah marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: artists
Interview on Diane Rehm show 7/5/13
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