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 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:

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.
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).
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. 


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:


& 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.