‘Whale wonder’ explores the allure of the humpback whale’s voice and our responses to it in a few seminal works involving music ‐ among them, Walt Disney’s The Whale Who Wanted to Sing at the Met (1946), Pete Seeger’s ‘The Song of the World’s Last Whale’ (1970) and John Cage’s ‘Litany for the Whale’ (1980). The article considers works in which the whale’s voice affects singing as well as our very concept of what singing is. ‘Whale wonder’ shows how music in these works is not a mere projection of what the whale symbolizes or signifies for us. As the whale’s voice enters music, it transforms it and our understanding of what music can be.
- John Cage
- Humpback whale