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Rothenberg and his beloved cicada percussion group.

David Rothenberg and his cicada percussion group.

John Detitta back again… I wanted to share with you all an article recently published on USA Today.

We’ve all heard the stories of the dreaded cicada bugs… You know, the loud, obnoxious, frightening-to-look-at creatures that bury themselves underground for 17 years and come up just in time for summer at the end of their cycle?

Well, according to the article, a composer in Cold Springs, NY named David Rothenberg has found a way to turn these critters into musicians in his orchestra.

“This is a strange and mysterious phenomenon because it doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world in such numbers,” he said, speaking of the insects’ unusual underground cycle.  And he’s right.  The last time they emerged from below the surface, Bill Cinton was seeking reelection to the Presidency.

And how do these bugs qualify for a musical composition?  The article tells us that the unique sound the male cicada, or Magicicada septendecim, makes when trying to attract a mate is that pesky buzzing or clicking noise North Easterners tend to dread.  However, Rothenberg saw an opportunity where others wanted to plug their ears.

Because the cicadas only mate every 17 years, when the do mate, they do so in force.  The overwhelming number of mating calls emitted by the males allowed Rothenberg to turn them into percussion sounds.  Combine that with his woodwind playing, and two years ago in the Midwest, Rothenberg was able to produce an album titled “Bug Music.”  The articles also states that he has published a book in the same name.

“It’s a humbling experience, being one of the thousand musicians, the rest of them beating their tymbals (a male cicada’s vibrating membrane) for their very lives, caught up in the desperate unique propagation of their species through sound,” he published.

Rothenberg is thrilled, and is currently preparing for this summer’s cycle of cicadas. “I know they’ll be here,” He said of this year’s bugs. “It’s the same bunch.”