Trap Pond Soundscape

Trap pondHello everyone. I’m back with a new emphasis: Soundscape Recordings. I intend to launch a new series of nature soundscape audio titles within the next few months. Call them CDs if you like, but the primary mode of distribution will be through digital downloads from iTunes, amazonmp3, and similar outlets.

I intend to use this blog to discuss various soundscapes and how I feel about them. I will also be creating a special section on our web site about natural soundscapes and their power to help us relax. This is very exciting for me, so please stay tuned!

Speaking of natural soundscapes, check out the following recording that I made over twenty years ago at 1 am on July 30, 1988, at Trap Pond State Park near Delmar Delaware (note that you’ll hear a 2-minute sample of what is actually a 10-minute performance). I really like this recording and the pulsating rhythms that make it up. I find it mesmerizing and relaxing, for reasons I will discuss below. It is one of my favorites—let me know if you also like the overall “feel” of it.

nsect and frog soundscape recorded by Lang Elliott at 1 am on 30 July 1988 at Trap Pond State Park near Delmar, Delaware.

My stereo microphone was placed at pond edge, facing a stand of baldcypress trees and scattered emergent vegetation. The soundscape is dominated by only four species—two kind of frogs and two kinds of insects). Distant Bullfrogs occupy the bottom end of the frequency spectrum, their low-pitched, rhythmic “rum-rum” calls ranging from about 100-300 Hz (see graphic below). Green Frogs sound off periodically throughout, their sharp “gunk-gunk-gunk” notes ranging from around 300 Hz up to 3000 Hz and higher, depending on how close the caller is to the microphone. Common True Katydids dominate the midrange, their raucous rattles spanning a frequency range from about 1500 Hz up to 7000 Hz. At the top end are the very high-pitched clicks and shuffles of a single Handsome Meadow Katydid, its rhythmically repeated calls ranging from 7000 Hz up to 20000 Hz and beyond. Here is an expanded view of a section of the soundscape:

large view of sonogram of Trap Pond Soundscape

I love this recording! My Trap Pond soundscape is lush and full of sound occupying the entire frequency spectrum from low bass (bullfrogs) to the high treble (meadow katydid). No one animal dominates the soundscape and none of the calls are loud and jarring, at least to my ears. Furthermore, there are several strong internal elements of rhythm that lull one’s mind into a meditative state. I think this recording qualifies as being an “insect lullaby” of the highest sort.

Whatya think? Is it anywhere near as good as I think it is? Are the high frequencies too overwhelming? Or does it come across nicely when you play the recording back at a moderate volume? Would this recording help you go to sleep, or would it have have the opposite effect and fill your mind with panic and confusion?

Comments

  1. This is a great tip particularly to those new to the
    blogosphere. Simple but very accurate information… Many thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  2. Zack Frieben says:

    I love this recording, and the bullfrogs almost sound eerie to me.

  3. Nicholas Hlifka says:

    Lang,
    I loved this recording and look forward to hearing more soundscapes from you in the coming months. I am a 13 year old with great hearing in all frequency ranges. I thought that, if anything, the meadow katydids were a little much, but I still loved the recording. I love your site and everything you do for the nature lovers community.

  4. This is a really neat recording. It is relaxing. The green frogs sound different than the ones in my area. That well may be a regional variation. These are lower in voice to my hearing, and noticeably different, but obviously green frogs. My hearing is rather good so the high pitched katydid is a bit loud for me, but with most listeners not so good in the high ranges, that may be exactly where it should be.

    Ted

    • I was afraid folks would find those katydids too overwhelming in the Trap Pond Soundscape. And now with Ted Mack and Liz Maynard both finding them unpleasant, I’ll either lower their level considerably, or else not feature the recording in my forthcoming series.

      Anybody else care to chime in?

  5. Good to hear from you David and I’m glad you like the Trap Pond soundscape. I plan to post many new soundscapes in the weeks to come as I continue editing recordings for my soundscape series. Launch date for actual soundscape titles? Maybe in a couple of months . . . stay tuned.

  6. David S. Marsh says:

    Hello Lang, I was pleased to see you are still making progress with the evolution of Sounds of Nature. I very much enoyed this one, and, as you know, I am weak in the HF range. The sounds were distinct, and painted a restful but interesting mental picture of the setting. I am looking forward to your future work.

  7. It’s so good to hear from you about soundscapes especially this time of the year when I miss these sounds so much. I think the only reason the True Katydids are a little overwhelming is because they are so constant. Overall it sounds great. These kinds of recordings are a comfort to me in the winter and reassure me that it won’t last forever.

  8. With my HF hearing fading (I generally need to crank the treble these days), along with my longtime jonesing for insect sounds, this mix works for me…

    • Good to hear from you Jim. Since my main audience will probably be the growing cohort of aging hippies, the level of HF content might not be that important. Actually, I posted my Trap Pond recording just to get this kind of feedback. It has a lot of HF content, so I was wondering how folks might respond to that. Perhaps youngin’s with excellent HF sensitivity will find it annoying. Or perhaps not—my friend Wil Hershberger thinks it’s great and he has excellent HF response.

  9. GREAT news, Lang. I really look (listen) forward to what you’ll brew up in the way of new soundscape pieces! And, BTW, awesome self-portrait in the comment-avatar photo!

    • Glad to learn you’re listening-in. You may be pleased that I intend to get pretty active with the soundscape work, mining for gold in my collection that spans twenty years or so. I’m grateful that I started recording with my SASS setup way back in 1992. All my “old” SASS recordings are every bit as good as what I am able to gather today. I’d be sick at my stomach if I used a lesser setup through the 90s.

  10. Great! I’ve been using Naturescape on my ipod, but this is great! The higher frequencies are a little bit much, but maybe that’s what it needs.
    Keep them coming!

    • Kirk:

      Thank you for your comments on the Trap Pond Soundscape. I’m curious to learn more about how you responded to the high frequency content. If you play at a relaxed listening level, are the Common True Katydids in the midrange overwhelming? And what about the Handsome Meadow Katydid way up at the top. Is it a little loud too?

      I can always reduce the HF content by pulling back everything above 2000Hz, thereby raising the frogs relative to the insects. Or I can home-in on the True Katydids and pull them back a bit, leaving the lows and highs untouched.

      What do you think?

      Lang

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*