Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 491–492 | Cite as

Joeri Bruyninckx, Listening in the Field: Recording and the Science of Birdsong

The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2018, 256 pp., 5 color illus., 25 b&w illus., $34.00, ISBN: 9780262037624
  • Kristoffer WhitneyEmail author
Book Review

Joeri Bruyninckx’s Listening in the Field uses the history of sound recording in field ornithology to investigate myriad topics of interest to historians of biology: amateur and professional collaboration, the multiple roles of technology, the [porous] lab/field border, and the context-dependent nature of scientific objectivity. The book proceeds more or less chronologically, focusing on birdsong scientists and collectors in North America and Europe between 1880 and 1980.

The first substantive chapter tracks the rise and fall of musical notation as the scientifically preferred method for capturing birdsong in the field. Scoring birdsong was adopted as an accurate and precise form of inscription, and at the same time created a shared “cultural domain” with “composers, teachers, and popular entertainers” (p. 36). In the 1910s and 1920s, however, Bruyninckx shows the ways in which musical notation began to fall out of favor with ornithologists who found the necessary musical training and...


Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rochester Institute of TechnologyRochesterUSA

Personalised recommendations