David Rothenberg (b. 1962) is a professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, with a special interest in animal sounds as music. He is also a jazz musician whose books and recordings reflect a longtime interest in understanding other species by making music with them. Rothenburg graduated from Harvard and took his PhD from Boston University.
Looking back at his high school years in the 1970s, Rothenberg told Claudia Dreifus of the New York Times, “I was influenced by saxophonist Paul Winter’s Common Ground album, which had his own compositions with whale and bird sounds mixed in. That got me interested in using music to learn more about the natural world.”
As an undergraduate at Harvard, Rothenberg created his own major to combine music with communication. He traveled in Europe after graduation, playing jazz clarinet. Listening to the recorded song of a hermit thrush, he heard structure that reminded him of a Miles Davis solo.
Because of Rothenberg’s study of animal song and his experimental interactions with animal music, he is often called an “interspecies musician.” According to Andrew Revkin, he “explores the sounds of all manner of living things as both an environmental philosopher and jazz musician.”
Rothenberg is a professor of philosophy and music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, with a special interest in animal sounds as music.