Sound of the Month

Sound of the Month is a participatory element of the project; one for which we hope you will join us.

Each month, you can listen to a sound on the home page where we invite you to send us your description, definition or audition of that sound. 

This page will host the monthly reveal and publicise some of the listening descriptions.

Your descriptions will help us understand how listening translates into words and communication, and what communal cross overs and shared understandings we can develop from that.

We are looking forward to hearing your words on listening.

The October Reveal

Reveal: The October Sound of the Month was a slowed down recording of a synthesiser taken by the artist Tim Spooner.

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response: Stepping into the sanctuary, the world outside frenetic, chaotic, harrowing and harried. The air inside hushed, still, a weight seems to fall from yr shoulders, like a leaden mantle falling away... You realize you've been holding yr breath. You breathe deep for what seems like the first time in months. You realize yr pulse has been racing. Blood rushes to yr ears.
Time seems to slow, to still, to stop, in the absence of stress, in the sudden stillness. Yr suddenly dizzy, almost giddy. High from simply the lack of fear, the absence of worry...

Response: I get the feeling it is an electronic version of the sound of water traveling at slower and faster speeds through a system of pipes and valves. As more or less valves are opened, the speed, and thus the frequency, goes up and down, with continuous modulation.

 

 

 

 

The September Reveal

Reveal: The September Sound of the Month was recorded in the corridor of the Edinburgh University Centre for Speech Technology Research. It is largely comprised of the background noise generated by the HVAC system.

Below is our favourite interpretation of this sound:

Response: Static, a mechanical whirring, the feeling of moving steadily through space, with little friction. sounds like it could inside an airport, but perhaps that's influenced by the airplane sounds in my current environment, outside.

 

 

 

 

The August Reveal

Reveal: The August sound of the month was a field recording in a British pub's beer garden.

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response: A large number of human voices, a group of people who may or may not know each other, like a conference, a coffee or tea break perhaps. Words indistinct, blend and blur into each other. Some laughter (which sounds male). They sound like English speakers,  no other languages audible, low pitch, controlled but at ease. Some squeals of machinery, like a tram on its tracks rounding a corner, it’s a field recording, external, outdoors, perhaps warm weather, mid to late afternoon I’d say. Urban environment I think, but there are only human sounds,  which seems surprising, no birds or insects audible, no other species at all (bearing in mind I do not have headphones handy to use).

Response: It sounds like guests talking amongst themselves at a small wedding taking place out in the garden.

 

 

 

The July Reveal

Reveal: The July sound of the month was ants crawling over a contact mic.

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response: An underwater recording with little scratchy or nibbly fish. Or... a contact mic that's a bit loose on the connections being moved around, taped down and things.

Response: In the background I hear a tension, like a loose snare vibrating softly.

Upfront is a sort of scratching, or shaking of small heavy rough particles. Reminds me of a gesture we practised when we were children. We put our ears on the wooden table top and listened while we scratched the rough surface underneath.

(There is nothing in between these two sounds)

Response: A new contact microphone is plugged in and examined, fingers and finger nails 0lay with its metallic form.  Placed upon some surface it’s turned over, dragged over the slightly gritty floor. Bored with its sound it’s eventually left alone and turned off.

 

 

The June Reveal

Reveal: The June sound of the month was an iPhone recording from the Black Lives Matter street protests, taken on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

The May Reveal

Reveal: The May sound of the month was the sound of the environment on the top of Reigate Hill, Surrey, UK starting 7.59pm on an early Thursday of the Covid-19 lockdown. Recorded by Mark Cattall, you can hear birdsong, a camera, a few cars, and then the rising sound of applause, pot banging, some horns. Near Gatwick airport, there is a notable absence of planes and large vehicles. There is no constant sound of the nearby roads.

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response: Somewhere in public space a phone starts vibrating. No one hears it. Maybe it signals messages from a major event, new years or an independence day celebration.

Response: A river, near to a road. A mobile phone vibrating, but sounds like a bird croak. A distance sound of a bells, but instead turns into an approaching train on the tracks. Many birds tweeting and chirping. Something that sounds like a moaning cat.

Response: A field recording: a mass of birds settling at dusk, some individual voices distinct, many species of bird, likely to be northern hemisphere birds, spring or summer. The banging of pans suggests lockdown and the acknowledgement of healthcare workers - Spain? Italy? Common Blackbird is audible, song and alarm call. Wrens, swifts, swallows. Other calls I'm unfamiliar with. Car horns. Human voices.

 

 

The April Reveal

Reveal: The April sound of the month was a recording of very cold water being dropped into a very hot frying pan.

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response: Sounds like an oil or water droplets hissing on a hot pan. Or buckwheat being poured in and out of some glass vessel.

Response: In an electric back drop we are introduced to the expanse of high frequency and intricacy in the form of many solitude sonic bodies, each listened to but as a collective at first as our ears are unable to give each one it's deserved time. The bodies hit the top of the ear then as we attune they run down to as little as one until we get lathered again. A quick detailed decline allows the the ear to focus and concentrate on the individual arriving through the mass. A whole ephemeral world in one divine sweep until the next. Each time our ear is given longer to pick the bodies out and the distance expands, giving us time to honour each sonic particle and their existing peers as we get used to the non-static form.

Response: Something being fried in oil ... lots of things being dropped into a shallow fry oil pan.

Response: Ravenous feelings as it reminds me of Indian spices tempered in tarka oil.

Response: heat being applied and pressure being released through bubbling and evaporation, a reaction taking place and rapidly fizzling out

Response: one sudden swift, wet fizz-drizzle, near ear, another gentler pan-plohp then drawn-out bubbling fry-rattle, a final swift pan-plohp-woosh and fast, falling away of bubbling-tumble

Response: cold liquid dropped onto hot ceramic hob or frying pan

Response: Is the sound of cooking something fried (I have been cooking a lot in this covid 19 period), But it also can be sand thrown to a flat acrylic type surface, or simply any grain. Actually is not cooking since the sound is not constant.

 

The March Reveal

Reveal: The March sound of the month was from a contact microphone on a small house plant sitting in an open window.

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response: A few months ago I was sleeping below deck. As a storm was approaching it was also raining lightly. I laid awake listening to the raindrops thrown against the deck 20 centimetres above my head by the gushes of wind. This is exactly how this fragment sounds for me.

Response: Listening to rain fall on a tiled roof from inside, through a double glazed window, right at the threshold of the rainclouds and clear sky (waiting for the chance to see a rainbow).

Response: Hail, rain and wind falling on a tent

Response: Rain falling under a cabin in the nature...

Response: the push-pull, constriction-expansion of billions of molecules meeting and falling away, playing, teasing, joining and infinitely pulsing, the on-off of joyous tension and release.

Response: This initially made me think of birds, possibly confined birds, or  a flock of birds landing on water......or perhaps it is some machine, possibly agricultural.........or a great store of nuts or some such commodity being poured out......... fascinating!

 

The February Reveal

Reveal: The February sound of the month was one day old puppies with their mother.

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response: A rather awkward recording full of very squishy, breathy, intimate, organic sounds only to evoke a more ambiguous response by its brevity.

Response: Sounds like kissing and accelerated breath, with some kind of wet sound on the background. Maybe horse hooves on wet cobblestone?

Response: Squeaky balloon bird call between labored breathing and squelchy feet.

Response: Running a finger along wet plastic in the rain - and faint breathing sounds.

Response: Kitten drinking milk while mother cleaning him.

Response: Animal cuddling?

Response: Sounds like a small animal trying desperately to reach something it needs, making quite melodic sounds with its mouth closed.

The January Reveal

Reveal: The January sound of the month was a glassblower in the studio shaping a piece of hot glass with a pad of wet newspaper. The heat from the glass evaporates the water on the pad and it hisses. The furnace is in the background. You can hear the glassmaker roll the metal blowpipe back and forth on the metal arms of the bench.

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response: Felt petting sliding pans and a noisy air conditioner make me uneasy in a mostly uninhabited grey room.

Response: Machinery running, a workshop setting, activity, internal but in a large open space with a roller door open to the outside. The making of objects, preparing of objects. A running motor, material (wood?) being prepared or sawn, timber. And/or metal being sharpened, e.g. the sharpening of knives. A single person operating this machine but could be within a large concern.

Response: It sounds like a room, a large room, with a speaker in it that's playing a synthetic voice that has been distorted and stretched. The speaker is a little way away from the mic, closer is something emitting static or electricity fuzz bursts, it sound almost like a carrier bag but not.

It sounds like an unusual place, maybe a room in a sci-fi film.

Response: I would say it is a working place with compressed  and cutting and moving tasks.

Response: Sand, fridge, metal, scratching, traffic.

The December Reveal

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response: Sounds like an aircraft / submarine deep in the sea..coming towards me

Response: It sounds like I am diving deeper and deeper under the water

Response: A boat sail blowing in the wind at night

Response: It starts with sounds like bubbles underwater, heard muffled through water. They start far away and seem to get closer. A ticking noise begins to sound over them too. Then an overlay of a sound like the scratching you hear when you have poor reception on an old telephone or TV come over the bubbling. It begins to sound more like an electronic music composition.

Response: Water, galaxies, rumbling, bubbles, underwater, ray, stream, background, fade, growth, rhythm, reaching, direction, edge, scratch, tiny

The October/November Reveal

Reveal: The October and November sound of the month was the process of a diamond being sharpened.

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response: Shrill, grating, irritating

Response: A metal surface - still, meeting another - moving, repeating. or -- elongated morse code--

Response: A table saw with wood because you can hear the chhh as he puts the wood aside

Response: It sounds a lot like a large stationary saw, specifically a bandsaw or a table saw. The louder, higher-pitched noise is the machine cutting the material (which in this case I would guess is wood) and the humming is the machine being on with the blade spinning. Between each cut the pieces are removed, and another piece is put in place, ready to be pushed through the blade.

Whether my guess is correct or not, I can almost picture the workshop process in my head, accompanied by these sounds.

Response: It could be some grinder or wood saw and axe. Audible repetitions, rhythm and chorus of work and materials.

Response: This is an industrialized woodwork, and one can hear, some material is sawn away and then thrown on a pile to the rhythm of manual working but not to a machine.

The September Reveal

Reveal: The September Sound of the Month is an electronic metal detector. Metal detectors are based on the science of electromagnetism, and when electricity flows through the detector's transmitter coil, it creates a magnetic field around it. If you sweep the detector above a metal object, the magnetic field penetrates directly through it and the magnetic field makes an electric current flow inside the metal object.

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response:
A high buzz, starting low and coming up higher. A siren, a wasp and a distorted voice. It's waving. It keeps waving. It's getting more animated as if we can't hear what it's trying to say. It has a sudden tiny stop/break in its rhythm only to shout even louder and higher afterwards. Not for long. It's down again. And then on a journey of high and low again with periods of frustration and tiny breakthroughs. An engine that can't get to start but is somehow moving forward in a very non linear and non directional manner to suddenly stop without warning. It can fly so its play field is much wider than ours. I wish I could draw or move it.
Response:
The sound reminds me of the sounds that could be produced with some old (90's) kids toys. I'm thinking of toy cars with sirens or hooter buttons for example. They usually had very poor, grainy audio that was always slightly too loud in my memory.
Response:
Throat first, romped. switching register to the inanimate, synth controller, testing pitch. no longer a story

The August Reveal

Reveal: The August Sound of the Month is a recording of Pistol Shrimp, a species of snapping shrimp that make a snapping sound that can be heard with underwater microphones (hydrophones.) A snapping shrimp will close its claw at lightning speed to produce a loud “snap” as a way to stun its prey, deter predators, and communicate with others. However, as the claw snaps together, the sound is actually generated by the formation and subsequent popping of a bubble, rather than the physical contact of the claw striking together.

Below are our favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response:
many micro events, accumulating.
driven by gravity? a coalescence of movement, so that no one vibration has a defined edge.
space becomes.
both near and far defined, a pounding in particular tempo and pitch.
molten parachutes.
Response:
This is an abstract sound made up of many small components, multiples. Multiple repetitions. I listen several times and each time it transforms into another possibility. Temperature seems to play a part. It could be rain spattering on a surface near a window (cold); it could be food frying, spitting, on a cooker (hot); it could be a fire burning crackling outdoors (hot).
Response:
I hear three bands of sound.
The most frontal - a steady crackle at a constant level which has a somewhat chaotic rhythm to it and sounds wet and 'slappy'
There is another layer of thinner clicking sounds that have the pace of falling rain but it is not clear that it is.
A constant tone is buzzing in the back which seems to have the frequency of a computer fan or the like.

The July Reveal

Reveal: The July Sound of the Month is an offshore wind turbine. These impressive alternatives to fossil fuel harnessing also come with their own set of acoustic complexities. Concerns around collective wind turbine noises that may impact the natural underwater environment include the gear box reverberating down the mast and the 'thwap' of the tip vortices as they near the surface.

The June Reveal

Reveal: The June Sound of the Month is an underwater acoustic harassment device used in marine fish farming to discourage predation by resident carnivores such as seals and sea lions. As there is a spill-over of these sounds, this also disrupts the normal acoustic habitat of any animal within hearing range.

Our five May favourites:

Reveal: The May Sound of the Month is a hoard of insects moving towards light, otherwise known as phototaxis (the phenomenon of responding to light through movement.) Sounds were recorded from the window pane separating the insects from the light source.

Below are our five favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response:  I hear two pitches approximately a 3rd apart... short sounds with a quick decay... randomly triggered by a soft pitter-patter. The hiss in the recording suggests a very quiet sound from a small object.

So it's... raindrops on a miniature bongo drum?

Response:There is wooden wheel turning, creating a large rolling movement with some smaller wood pieces touching themselves. The movement is standing, but chaotic.

Response:The sound is vaguely aquatic and resonant, a hard plastic or perhaps clay, porcelain, or terracotta. The percussive material sounds artificial. First thoughts and guesses as to the source: the rear of a toilet bowl being stirred, an amplified version of a pitcher/vase/other container being stirred.

Response: rain, wood. rain on a drum skin. a handmade instrument with a crank being turned to produce sound textures. 

Response:

The effort of the arm spinning a barrel
To the playground
ball and socket
Making my hips want to dance,
Container of metal,
Spinner like drums

Our five April favourites:

Reveal: The April Sound of the Month is a group of tadpoles in a small rock pool seeking shade from the midday sun beneath and around a pair of underwater microphones (hydrophones.)

Below are our five favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response:

Chitinous
Contentment
Camaraderie
& Community

Response: At the start it sounded as though it was a sprinkler being turned on, the little mechanical ttttttt over the garden, but then I thought it was a cart being pulled along a gravel road in high straw grass. I could hear the sound of crickets in the background.

Response: At first, it sounded like birds but then it becomes unsettling. perhaps it is something in the sky, insects or perhaps it is an insect, a moth maybe, trapped in water, flapping to get free.

Response: I hear a recording of what I would describe as a sound texture. I listen
to it via headphones and what arrives at the two ears is related but not
the same. I am wondering what the relation is. It seems to be the same
process and it has a living feel to it. Once, towards the end, there a
special event occurs at the right ear (a guiro kind of sound), of which
I expect an answer on the other side, but it does not happen. There is
some regularity to the sound events making up the texture. The more I
listen to it, the more abstract it becomes.

Response: lightness / small / chatter? / flutter? / movement / many? / inside?

Our five March favourites:

Reveal: The March Sound of the Month is the inner workings of a rusted windmill as it is being activated by the wind in the South African Savannah.

Below are our five favourite interpretations of this sound:

Response: I feel I stepped inside a boat cargo made of metal and wood material... it is oscillating over water... an engine starts... things are brought in and fall on the floor...

Response: I hear mechanical rather than natural sounds, involving metal components such as lift workings or tram tracks. I notice moments of silence. The sound seems to be coming from a fixed location rather than moving towards or away from the recorder. It sounds nearby. The metal creaks and squeaks and groans as if it needs oiling, or maybe there is intermittent contact between several distinct parts. I dont hear any background noise, for example in a street or railway station so I cant locate where this might be happening. I also can't hear any sense of an acoustic space, such as a resonant enclosing building. It sounds flat and neutral. This makes me think the sound might be coming from something relatively small and portable.

Response: Metallic,  door opening,  mechanical, rumbling.

Response: A dark and dank lift, taking us down a mineshaft. Dampness. Then we enter a metal cab, deeper and creakier along the tracks. Sliding metal doors prise apart. Lower and lower. A sense of moving through a confined space, hence the loud, oppressive noises. Yet there is an awareness of moving within a larger, labyrinthine system.

Response: Metal ship door mechanics mobile bewegung movement.

Our five February favourites:

Reveal: The February Sound of the Month is a sensor-based stethoscope recording of a lung examination. The first section is characterised by handling noise and heartbeats followed by contact noise as the stethoscope is moved across the back of the patient. At 28 seconds heartbeats and distinct crackling noises can be heard. These crackles or dry, crepitant rales, are said to be caused by the popping open of small airways and alveoli collapsed by fluid exudate or lack of aeration during expiration.

This type of listening is referred to as auscultation; the action of listening to sounds from the heart, lungs, or other organs, typically with a stethoscope, and used to diagnose various medical conditions.

Below are our five favourite interpretations of this sound.

Response: Rich low pitched rumbling, recorder handling noise, mic inside something, placed inside something, in a pocket, a turntable sound, mic inside a mouth perhaps. Internal sounds, bodily sounds perhaps, or sounds close to the body, clothing, the body - a body - is audible. An action, something taking place, movement, an ongoingness. A medical test? An illness in the body? Living, walking perhaps. I assume a human body but there is no reason for this, could be a similar sized creature to a human.

Response: Movement... First, movement of air. Followed by movement of recording device.

Response: A phone microphone pressed against the pregnant belly of a woman, perhaps?

Response: I work in the sound department of the film and television industry, so this may bias my response. To me it sounds like a lav mic being covered by a body part (such as a hand) then moved near a chest of someone breathing. It sounds like the grill of the mic is catching the fibres of the clothing they are wearing.

Response: At first I thought it was the wind disturbing the microphone and a landscape - but with limitations I did not understand, something of a border with low dark hard edges in the sound of wind in a landscape. Then there were disturbances someone a person moving the microphone and moving it close to the body, clothes. So then it changed from an outer landscape to an inner landscape with wind (blood flowing) and perhaps a pulse/heart and the border was the skin and bones and borders of a human body.