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Anatomical Limitations on Dolphin Trumpet Playing

Few dolphins play the trumpet. Why is this so? It’s a question that has puzzled musicologists for decades. However ground-breaking new research may have finally solved this mystery.

Mouth or blowhole? One of many questions concerning dolphin trumpet playing.

Early theories on the non-playing of trumpets by dolphins centred around the species supposed dislike of jazz. 

In their natural habitat, dolphins are yet to be observed either listening to, or producing jazz. As the theory goes, this staunch aversion to jazz carries over into a consequential dislike of all instruments associated with jazz.


However, a new research paper submitted to Nature Magazine refutes this claim. Dr Karl Schweinberg of the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, in Germany, has made startling new discoveries in the field of Dolphin Non-Trumpet Playing.    

The Jazz Aversion Theory was put forward by a bias group of jazz-hating marine biologists. They wanted to demonstrate jazz is only enjoyed by the human species, and is thus of low musical merit. - Dr Karl Schweinberg


"Now it is true wild dolphins are not Jazz fans," said Dr Schweinberg. "However, captive dolphins show no negative behaviour when listening to jazz, in fact many appear to enjoy it.  

This clearly indicates wild dolphins have no innate aversion to jazz, but are instead merely unaware of the genre."

In her scientific paper, Dolphins Don’t Play Trumpets, submitted to Scholastic, Pamela Chanko put forth some strong arguments, refuting the playing of trumpets by dolphins. But then she shattered her non-playing hypothesis by highlighting Dexter, who is thought to be a trumpet playing dolphin! 

However peer review of Chanko's paper suggests Dexter may not have played the trumpet at all, but merely played with it. As of now, the jury is still out on Dexter. 


While not as popular as above water music, underwater music has its fans. The Dutch band, AquaSonic is famous for their submerged performances. Furthermore, seals have been known to take up the saxophone, and indeed many demonstrate great proficiency with the instrument. 

So there is no reason to suppose trumpets can not played underwater and no reason to assume marine animals are atheistically averse to wind instruments. So why are there so few dolphin trumpet players?”


“I believe I’ve finally cracked this puzzle!” said Dr Karl Schweinberg. 

“There appears to be atomical limitations on dolphins, preventing them from mastering the insturment. 

After numerous dissections, we have discovered dolphins can only exhale into trumpets through their upper blowhole, and not through the mouth as previously hypothesised by Pamela Chanko. 

Given the upper blowhole location, it seems dolphins are unable to reach the instrument with their flippers, to manipulate the slides and vary notes mechanically. While more research is still required, I’m confident these physical constraints are at the core of why dolphins are not keen on trumpet playing."

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