Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Music Honours


Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

First Advisor

Dr Stuart James


Native to Australia, the Pied Butcherbird has been extensively studied and transcribed by previous composers, notably including Olivier Messiaen. This may be due to richness and diversity in each bird’s repertoire, along with parallels drawn from Western Tonality. Hollis Taylor has conducted extensive study in this field, notably with an analysis of a transcription made by Messiaen, that was incorporated in his piece Éclairs sur l'au- delà (1988-91). Coupled with the original field recording, Taylor’s analysis and Messiaen’s score, this study will reanalyse the original recording from which Messiaen made his transcription.

Zoomusicology is a practice that represents the nexus of research between musicology, biology, and science. At the present time research yields varying and inconsistent accounts of the prevalence or absence of quantifiable intonation among calls made by animals in the wild. Audio frequency analysis methods can also be inconsistent, potentially contributing to inconclusive results. Could a comparative assessment of computational analyses help refine the process of identifying intonation from recorded audio, and establish a greater consensus in the field of Zoomusicology?

The aims of this research center on current practices of field recording analysis, with the aim of accuracy in frequency data collection. A number of computational spectral analysis methods are compared with the aim of accurately transcribing and notating the field recording. By comparing frequencies described in just intonation and cents, along with alternative methods of notation, like the 3D spectrogram; this dissertation builds on Taylor’s research in gaining an accurate understanding of the intonation and a possible notation of the Pied Butcherbird, that can be drawn upon in future music compositions, and analyses of other creatures from the wild.


Thesis Location