Emily Doolittle

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Born in Canada, and based in Scotland, Emily Doolittle is a composer and zoomusicologist. She writes:

I am the grateful recipient of two Culture & Animals Foundation grants. My first grant, in 2011, enabled me to spend five months as composer-in-residence at the Max Planck Centre for Ornithology in Seewiesen, Germany. While there, I co-wrote a paper on the song of the musician wren with ornithologist Henrik Brumm (O Canto do Uirapuru: Consonant intervals and patterns in the song of the musician wren, Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies 6.1, 2012), wrote a piece based on the songs of duetting birds (Seven Duos for Birds or Strings), and had a concert of my birdsong-related music performed by members of the Bavarian State Opera. My second grant, awarded in 2016, is funding my collaborative research on grey seal vocalizations with biologists Vincent Janik and Alex Carroll at St. Andrews University. We are currently making video and audio recordings of the seals at Tentsmuir Forest, and are planning recordings in other locations in 2017. I am beginning my analysis of the songs, using techniques drawn from both music and biology. I am writing a 20-minute piece based on grey seal vocalizations to be premiered by the St. Andrews New Music Ensemble at the St Andrews New Music Festival in February 2018. We will also be co-writing a paper on the vocalizations.

2020 Updates:
Emily has continued to create music inspired by, or influenced by a variety of animals. Since her 2016 grant, animals that have made their way into her music include the Bowhead Whale and Canadian birds including the bobolink, the hermit thrush, the winter wren, snow geese, and five species of owls. She has continued to conduct research, and participate in a variety of talks. Many of her planned 2020 concerts have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, while others have moved online. She has since spent time reflecting on what the pandemic can do to help marginalizes voices, as shown in her writing here.