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The Nature of Music 14: Jim Nollman


Jim Nollman is a composer of music for theater, a conceptual artist, an environmental activist, an author, and a pioneer of in the field of interspecies music and communication. In 1973, he composed a Thanksgiving Day radio piece and recorded himself singing children’s songs with three hundred turkeys. He has recorded interspecies music with various other animals. He released several albums on Folkways Records, including Playing Music with Animals: Interspecies Communication of Jim Nollman with 300 Turkeys, 12 Wolves and 20 Orcas.

Nollman directed one of Greenpeace’s first overseas projects, at Iki Island, Japan, where fishermen were slaughtering dolphins to compensate for human overfishing. In 1978, Nollman founded Interspecies, which sponsors artists’ efforts to communicate with animals through music and art. Its best-known project is a twenty-five-year study using live music to interact with wild orcas off the west coast of Canada. Nollman, himself a reed player, has recorded numerous works in which he plays saxophones in ensemble with orcas, a species of dolphin also known as killer whales.

The event featured Other Minds Executive Director Charles Amirkhanian in conversation with our featured composer Jim Nollman, who has dedicated his life to the science of  ”interspecies” communication and music.

The virtual lecture included selected recordings of live performances with orcas, bottlenose dolphins, and turkeys as well as never-before-heard electroacoustic and contra dance music by Nollman. Amirkhanian and Nollman also discussed the composer’s role in the U.S. Navy’s efforts to combat whale deaths through sonar, his work as an activist against dry fisheries in Japan, and the intersection of technology and intuition involved in collaborating musically with animals.

program streamed via the internet.


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