From the buzz of giraffes to the sounds of imitation birds - listen to nature together

    We continue a series of stories about the interesting sounds of nature based on the World According to Sound podcast Sam Harnett (Sam Harnett) and Chris Hoff (Chris Hoff). In the last part of the review, we talked about unusual sounds that can be emitted by insects, geysers and gravitational waves. In this part we will analyze what sounds giraffes, birds and people are capable of.


    Rachel Hobday CC Photo

    Giraffes night buzz


    We all heard the lions roar and the frogs croak, but what sounds do giraffes make? For a long time, these animals were considered relatively silent, capable only of occasional snorting and sniffing. There were several explanations for this silence: some scientists assumed that it was physically difficult for animals to make sounds from behind a long neck; others believed that giraffes talk using infrasound - low frequencies that are inaccessible to the human ear. Such sound vibrations, for example, use elephants, communicating over long distances.

    However, a few years ago, a team of biologists from the University of Vienna discovered a previously unknown buzz among giraffes. Researcher Angela Stöger analyzed947 hours of audio recordings from three European zoos - it turned out that at night the animals made unusual humming sounds at a frequency of 92 Hz - rather quiet, but accessible to human hearing.

    "I was fascinated, because these signals have a very interesting and complex sound acoustic structure" - leads words Shtoger popular science magazine New Scientist. See for yourself by listening to the recording.


    At the moment, scientists can not accurately determine what function performs the night buzz. Franklin and Marshall College expert on animal behavior Meredith Bashaw (Meredith Bashaw) suggests that giraffes thus communicate with each other in the dark, as if to say "hey, I'm here!". Researchers have yet to find out whether animals use this buzz to communicate with each other, or is it just a passively produced sound like snoring.

    Imitation bird


    National Australian birds - lyrebirds - can imitate a variety of environmental sounds. It would seem, nothing unusual, we know the ability of the starling to copy the sounds of other birds, and the ability of gray parrots to imitate the human voice. However, it is precisely the diversity of imitations that is striking in this family of passerine birds.

    Lyrebirds can imitate animal sounds, such as koalas or dingoes, and it is almost impossible to distinguish them from real ones. They can control almost any sound - from car alarms to camera clicks. This video demonstrates the ability of a bird, particularly impressive is the imitation of the sound of a chainsaw.


    Listen to the lyrebird's songs, similar to the sounds of a flute, here .

    Charles "Bird man" Kellogg


    A native of California, Charles Kellogg (Charles Kellogg) from his childhood masterfully parody nightingales, mockingbirds, larks and other birds. Kellogg's fame was brought about by the fact that he did not just whistle the sounds, but emitted them completely with his throat.

    In his youth, Charles has already performed throughout the country, and by the age of forty he became popular outside the United States, touring Europe. Kellogg himself claimed that his range was 12 and a half octaves, which is almost twice the range of the piano. He also performed with the orchestra, often performing musical pieces and classics popular at that time (early 20th century). Below you can listen to an excerpt of the Narcissus piece with Kellogg's accompaniment.


    Records made by American record companies in the 78rpm era (including Kellogg's "imitations") can be heard on the Discography of American Historical Recordings (DAHR) website.


    Photo Forest and Kim Starr SS

    Sounding leaves


    Since ancient times, people invented a variety of musical instruments to extract sound. However, some of them nature presents us in finished form - for example, ordinary leaves. Where they first began to be used as such is not known for sure. Playing on the leaves is an ancient tradition in Hawaii, it is also common in Asia and is associated there with the whistling singing, often related to grooming.

    On the Internet, professional musicians and just amateurs post detailed instructions on how to extract sound from the leaves - how to properly clamp the “instrument” between the lips and with what force to blow into it. With proper skill, you can extract different notes and even play whole pieces.


    Hawaiians have developed the practice of playing with the help of Cordilina leaves. In Australia, the game on the leaves was also common, but eucalyptus was most often used as a “tool”. To date, this music - rather a rarity, but some performers still demonstrate extraordinary skill and even produce training manuals on the game on the leaves.



    PS Our yesterday's digest on Habré - "Reading for the weekend": 30 materials on sound, audio brand history and film industry .



    PPS Even more materials about sound - in our "World Hi-Fi":




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