“Every Good Bird Does Fine”
by Ian Rose
JSTOR Daily, July 20, 2022
JSTOR Daily editors,
My name is Ian Rose, and I am a freelance science and nature writer based in Oregon, USA. I have been reading JSTOR Daily regularly for a while now, especially the biology and ecology articles by Olivia Box, Matthew Wills and others. I would love to contribute to your archive, and hope the following pitch finds some interest there.
Humans have coexisted with birds for our entire history as a species, and as far back as we have records, we have been fascinated by their songs. From the ancients across several continents to today, we have wondered at the complexity of birdsong, and theorized what it meant for the birds themselves. The question remains today, and is an active field of research: Is birdsong most similar to speech, music, or something else entirely?
100 years ago this year, American musician and music scholar W.B. Olds published an article in The Musical Quarterly, titled “Bird-Music”, making the case not only that birdsong was music, but that it was exquisite, complex, beautiful music, and should be taught and understood as such. The article is here – https://www.jstor.org/stable/738234?seq=1, and I think it would make an interesting addition to JSTOR Daily, along with a short summary of some of the work on birdsong as music in the century since, both from a scientific and musical perspective.
My work has recently appeared in Earth Island Journal, The Scientist and Hakai Magazine. I hope this finds some interest there. Either way, thank you for your time and have a great day.