David Rothenberg has written and performed on the relationship between humanity and nature for many years. He is the author of Why Birds Sing, on making music with birds, also published in England, Italy, Spain, Taiwan, China, Korea, and Germany. It was turned into a feature length BBC TV documentary. His following book, Thousand Mile Song, is on making music with whales. It was turned into a film for French television.
As a composer and jazz clarinetist, Rothenberg has sixteen CDs out under his own name, including On the Cliffs of the Heart, named one of the top ten CDs by Jazziz Magazine in 1995 and a record on ECM with Marilyn Crispell, One Dark Night I Left My Silent House. Other releases include Why Birds Sing and Whale Music. He invited many musical colleagues to join him on Whale Music Remixed, with contributions from noted electronic artists such as Scanner, DJ Spooky, Lukas Ligeti, Mira Calix, Ben Neill, and Robert Rich. Rothenberg’s duet CD with keyboardist Lewis Porter, is Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast. Next is a duet with British electronic music wizard Scanner, called You Can’t Get There From Here.
His book, recording, and film Nightingales in Berlin, was published in April 2019. In 2020 it came out in German as Stadt der Nachtigallen. There is also an audiobook version read by Eva Mattes, on Spotify worldwide.
In 2020 Rothenberg released a book he has been working on for more than two decades, The Possibility of Reddish Green.
His 2020 releases include In the Wake of Memories, with Wassim Mukdad and Volker Lankow, and They Say Humans Exist, with Jacob Young and Sidiki Camara, named best jazz album of the year by Stereo+ Magazine in Norway.
There is a nice overview of Rothenberg’s work in the Harvard Gazette.
His 2014 CD features Pauline Oliveros and Timothy Hill, called Cicada Dream Band. His 2015 CD featuring live performances with nightingales is Berlin Bülbül, made together with Korhan Erel. In 2016 he released And Vex the Nightingale with Czech accordionist Lucie Vítková.
David Rothenberg is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, which has encouraged and supported all of his creative projects since 1992.
His book on insects and music, along with a companion CD, published in April 2013 by St. Martins Press under the title Bug Music. It has been covered in the New Yorker, the Wall St Journal, the New York Times, on PBS News Hour and on Radiolab. More videos and TV coverage can be found here. Additional reviews and podcasts can be found here. The CD of the same name can be found here. Find out where dubstep really comes from… bugstep!
Previous books include Sudden Music, Blue Cliff Record, Hand’s End, and Always the Mountains. His book on the evolution of beauty, and how art and science can be better intertwined, is Survival of the Beautiful, published by Bloomsbury in 2011. There have been nice reviews in the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, and the Telegraph.
Rothenberg’s first CD on ECM Records, with pianist Marilyn Crispell, One Dark Night I Left My Silent House came out in May 2010. Le Monde called it “une petite miracle.” Svenske Dagbladet in Stockholm gave it six stars, its highest rating. The Guardian heard “the clarinet subtleties of Jimmy Giuffre and the tonal adventurousness of Joe Maneri.” All About Jazz heard “sublime depth and intuition.” Morgenbladet says we “make improvised music melodious and catchy.” Sueddeutsche Zeitung praises our “wonderful craft and subtlety.” BBC Music Magazine said “if these pieces were pre-composed they’d be categorised as chamber music of a high order.”
Rothenberg’s conversation with Laurie Anderson on animals and music at the Explorers Club is online here.
A 2012 concert he performed with Jaron Lanier in London can be viewed here.
Rothenberg collaborated with Tessa Farmer on an art installation based on seventeen year cicadas at the Science Gallery in Dublin which can be viewed here.
His performance of Chapter 79 of Moby Dick as part of the Big Read project is here.
The Radiolab story on Bug Music, including a fine review of all of Rothenberg’s music/nature collaborations, can be heard here.
Here is a story about David’s work on the Ableton Live website. And here is a museum installation about slowing down animal sounds he designed together with Umru Rothenberg for the Estonian Museum of Natural History. Here is a new way to visualize humpback whale sounds developed along with with Michael Deal.