Friday, November 7, 2008

The Singers

Meet Baby, a Yellow-cheeked Gibbon (Nomascus gabriellae), who lives at the IPPL (International Primate Protection League) Gibbon Sanctuary in South Carolina. When I lived in Charleston in the late 90's, Dr. Shirley McGreal was kind enough to invite me to visit the sanctuary several times. During my first visit, I learned about the "Great Call" (though I did not hear it) and soon paid another visit with a good tape recorder.

Orangutans may be my favorite primates but I do love the Gibbons because they are the great singers of the primate family.

Click here to listen to

my recording of the Great Call of the Gibbons at the IPPL Sanctuary.

After a bit of instruction from Shirley, I prompted the gibbons to sing with my imitation of Shirley's imitation. I'll spare you the 25" version where you can hear me prompting them. This 12" + version is quite enough for a little blog post!

Aside from the barking dogs and some background voices, and a bit of a pre-echo, I think this is a pretty good recording. You can hear the squeaking of swings and maybe a little rattling of enclosures. The very high pitched voice you hear belongs to Baby, one of the two Vietnamese Gibbons at the Sanctuary. The other voices are those of White Handed Gibbons (Hylobates Lar).

I could not find a decent video of Gibbons singing. Either they were not in full voice, the person recording was talking over the singing or there was too much ambient noise, or the situation was too pathetic to excerpt. I remember Shirley telling me that there are few recordings of Gibbons in the wild. But I did find this recording by Dr. Susan Cheyne in Indonesia with some helpful information. There really is alarmingly little information on these songs across the web.

Not a very good photo, but a good sentiment. I snapped a shot of myself holding Baby's hand. What separates us speaks volumes.

Read an article on Music and Primates by Oiane Ruiz Alonso.

If you've been reading this blog, you'll know that I'm following the blog written by the director and rangers at Virunga National Park. Today, I learned from their blog that Thursday was the United Nations "International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment through War and Armed Conflict". Since my post today results from my visits to the International Primate Protection League, I highly recommend that you read Pierre's Post on Chimpanzees Caught up in War over at the Virunga site.

See my paintings at Landscape into Art.

My songs and CDs

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