For humans, hearing is limited to frequencies between about 20 Hz and 20,000 Hz, with the upper limit generally decreasing with age. Other species have a different range of hearing. For example, dogs can perceive vibrations higher than 20,000 Hz. As a signal perceived by one of the major senses, sound is used by many species for detecting danger, navigation, predation, and communication. Earth's atmosphere, water, and virtually any physical phenomenon, such as fire, rain, wind, surf, orearthquake, produces
(and is characterized by)
its unique sounds. Many species, such as frogs, birds, marine and terrestrial mammals, have also developed special organs to produce sound. In some species, these have evolved to produce song and (in humans) speech. Furthermore, humans have developed culture and technology (such as music, telephony and radio) that allows them to generate, record, transmit, and broadcast sound.
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|SCIENCE OF SOUND|
All animals rely on sound. People depend on the perception of sound for clues to our environment, for social bonding and to avoid danger. Non-human animals depend on a healthy aural environment for their survival. Birds and other animals may enjoy vocalizing, but sound is an important component for success in a competitive world. From elephants to marine mammals to moths -- yes moths! -- animals rely on sound for learning, reproduction and food. A natural soundscape is fundamental to the quality -- and quantity-- of our life on earth.
The experts at How Stuff Works tell us that sound is vibration through matter. That's not much to go on. Maybe a better question is "What does sound mean to me?"
There's a field of study called Bioaccoustics. Bioaccustics is the cross-discipline of the science of biology plus sound (accoustics). All animals are, in a large part, bioaccoustical beings. Sound may equal survival.
Another area of sound study and my personal passion, Accoustic ecology, is about understanding the relationship, mediated through sound, between living beings and their environment. If you are enjoying a natural soundscape, you may consider yourself to be a sound ecologist. Want to know more about acoustic ecology? Take a look at the National Park Service's Natural Sounds Program. Consider a membership in the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology or its American chapter. If you want to help preserve and protect the experience of natural sound for others, there are advocacy opportunities in your area to reduce sound pollution and increase protection of natural sound habitat. Keep your ears open for ways to get involved and check Note Catcher blog for ideas. Speak up (and often) in your own community on behalf of natural soundscapes. You'll be working to make our world a healthier and happierplace for all.
The survival of our natural world depends on the power that humans wield to protect and appreciate it. Access to a life-supporting soundscape is critical to animal survival, but it's also encoded in our own human DNA. A world with little natural sound would greatly diminish human quality of life while increasing our stresses. A meaningful definition of sound, then, is what sound means to the health and happiness of those you care about.
|ART OF SOUND|
"Sound Art" is a diverse group of art practices that considers wide notions of sound, listening and hearing as its predominant focus", claims the Wikipedia. From the sound artist, we get our music and more. Spoken poetry is sound art. There are also sound sculptures, sound installations and film, video and games. If you think of it, anything that is language-based can be considered sound art. Sound is present in everything we experience in life. It is the appreciation of art, and including the sounds evoked, that opens our senses to thoughtful, emotional enjoyment of life.
For a lovely example of how the sense of sound is inherient in language, I give you this poem by one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver. What can you hear in her descriptions? How do the sounds in this poem connect you with the feeling of the experience?
Where the path closed
down and over,
through the scumbled leaves,
through the knotted catbrier,
I kept going. Finally
I could not
save my arms
from thorns; soon
smelled me, hot
and wounded, and came
wheeling and whining.
And that's how I came
to the edge of the pond:
black and empty
except for a spindle
of bleached reeds
at the far shore
which, as I looked,
into three egrets - - -
of white fire!
Even half-asleep they had
such faith in the world
that had made them - - -
tilting through the water,
by the laws
of their faith not logic,
they opened their wings
softly and stepped
over every dark thing.
Here is a short collection of interesting links to help you explore and celebrate sound.
Sound Facts and Resources
MAKING SENSE OF SOUND
Explore the art and science of listening with The Listen Project, an online guide from San Francisco's amazing Exploritorium.
INTERNET AUDIO ARCHIVES
Over 100,000 free audio recordings to download and take with you on your walk. From rock concerts to poetry readings, there's lots to interest you here.
WILD SANCTUARY'S GOOGLE EARTH ADVENTURE
Where do you want to go on a sound adventure? Borneo? Africa? Alaska? Access Bernie's worldwide nature recordings via Google map and right from your home. Listen and imagine how big -- and important -- our world of natural sound really is.
HOW LOUD IS LOUD?-- SCIENCE OF UNDERWATER SOUND
Cornell University tells us.
ACCOUSTIC ECOLOGY INSTITUTE
A collection of information about animals, sound and our environment.
LANGUAGE AND MOVEMENT
GO HAND IN HAND
Fascinating look into the origins of verbal communication, suggesting a hard-wired link between articulation and motion.
ANIMAL COMMUNICATION - CORNELL LAB
Friends and colleagues at Cornell know a lot about animal communication. Check what the experts say.
THE SINGING LIFE OF BIRDS
NPR has an interesting program on Dr. Don Kroodsma, a top authority on the biology of birdsong. He's no ordinary stuck-in-the-lab scientist, however. He travels the world on a bicycle gathering his data!
ANIMAL VOCALIZATION AND BEHAVIOR (AUDIO & VIDEO)
These are the experts, my teachers and friends. I often rely on Cornell's assistance for creating wild sound stories. And it's easy to while away a cold and rainy day at their content-filled site.
HOW ANIMALS HEAR -- BARN OWL AND DESERT FOX
How do animals hear? This short video segment explores the nighttime worlds of the desert fox and the barn owl.
The wikipedia is a good starting spot for exploring this big adventure in sound.
DOLPHIN COMMUNICATION PROJECT
Focuses on the dual goals of research and education. You can also subscribe to The Dolphin Pod, a podcast for the more science-minded dolphin lovers.
ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS
Listen to great poems, many read by the great poets who wrote them. The Listening Room feature is here.
WHAT WILL YOU DO WITH YOUR ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE?
If you also love the passion of Mary Oliver's nature poetry, listen to Mary. Or download the podcast of the Lannan Foundation's Evening with Mary and take your wild heart on a nature walk.