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This is one of those stories that seem telling, somehow. You could make a case that it is a poignant commentary on modern life in Humboldt County. A loaded shopping cart near the Walgreens dumpster may have stoked fears that its current owner had perished in a heap of trash.

Choose Thunderdome. The most obvious impact results from the increase in powered travel and use of mechanical tools. The more confronting, and perhaps inconvenient, reality was that the sounds of human voices from the lower valley, one of the most obvious acoustic signals during our exercise, were absent as little as two years ago, when tourism was not yet developed in this valley.

We noted the paradox that a growing number of Taiwanese escape the hubbub of the city to wind down and search for quietude, only to find other city-dwellers and themselves changing the very land- and soundscapes they visit. Workshop participants observing the soundscape of the mountains near Hsinchu, Taiwan. Underneath the surface of technological, amplified and auto-repeated sounds in the public and semi-public sphere, one can hear an abundance of natural sounds of insects, birds and mammals.

Some of these are found in the city and countryside alike, like the singing of cicadas, which may create a dense wall of sound, sometimes in the middle of residential areas. At other instances, you may be able to hear just one type of insect or frog singing, like these two crickets of the Ornebius species, which I recorded near my home, performing an accidental duet.

The sounds of all these living beings occupy distinct niches of sonic space as regards the time of calling and the frequencies used.

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Soundscape recordist Bernie Krause coined the term niche-hypothesis for this phenomenon Krause Later he introduced a more general term, biophony, to describe the totality of sounds produced by animals, excluding humans, in a certain environment. Two more terms, geophony, to account for sounds of the earth such as rain, thunder, volcanic activity and anthropophony, to account for human-originated sounds, were added by Stuart Gage of the Envirosonics Lab in Michigan in a joint project with Krause Krause Biophony and anthropophony occupy a common space or interpenetrate each other, creating the hybrid sonic ecologies of human and non-human habitats that are common in spaces occupied and travelled by humans.

I suspect that I have witnessed a transference of human sound signals to a small group of non-human species able to emulate these signals. In what follows I will describe this unusual case, offer a possible candidate, make a reconstruction of what I heard and contextualize my observations within the emerging field of zoomusicology. My purpose, in trying to reconstruct what I heard and to present it as clearly as possible, is to invite an ever-increasing global community of conscious listeners to keep an ear open for similar cases. The musical garbage truck phenomenon. All over Taiwan, garbage trucks equipped with loudspeakers make their rounds, up to ten times a week in a single locality, playing tunes that announce their arrival to the citizens.

It grabs the attention of most foreign visitors, who do not have such musical waste-collecting services at home. YouTube hosts at least a dozen clips posted by visitors from Japan, America, France, Germany and other places. I do not recall ever hearing it before arriving in Taiwan. Here is a recording of a garbage truck with the lesser-known melody.

The musical garbage truck in Taiwan. The two tunes have entered the collective consciousness of the current population more than any other tunes — at least quantitatively speaking. Animal sounds resembling the garbage truck tune. One evening I heard repetitions of the unknown tune from the garbage trucks. I was puzzled by some deviations from the normal pattern and paid closer attention. The truck seemed to be making its rounds quite slowly, since its music continued for a long time.

Uncharacteristic of the garbage trucks, the melody did not stop after one or two minutes. The sound faded away and resurged again many times. The melody was also slightly slower.

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A nother odd variation was that the melody was incomplete. I then understood that this could not be the garbage truck but must be something else.

Listening more closely to the quality of the sounds, I realized they were not produced by humans but by birds, somewhere in the valley. The portion of the melody they sang seemed almost perfectly in tune and clearly recognizable as a section of the melody. Somewhat puzzled, I believed that I had stumbled upon birds mimicking the sounds they frequently heard in their environment. They appeared to have adopted human musical forms into their song.

I stared into the valley, listening intently, wondering what I could do to observe this phenomenon more closely. I had no clue how to try to locate the sound. It could be emanating from anywhere in the dense vegetation of the valley, where investigating by foot was difficult due to the slippery, steep slopes, as well as potentially dangerous due to the darkness and the presence of snakes. Location in Zhiben where I witnessed singing animals.

The following night I heard the melodic pattern again. The son of the property owners was visiting, and I asked him to take me around to try to locate the birds. I gathered they were somewhere further down the valley and was hoping he could show me some paths in the dark that brought us closer. He suggested we take his car, and we hit the winding road down the steep slope, but there were no tracks in the direction where I thought we needed to look.

Instead, we went down to the main road in the valley, along the riverbank. We found some stairs leading up onto the slope from there, but they would soon end, not getting us far enough. We returned to the homestay where we followed the paved road upwards on the slope. I pricked up my ears : nothing. We went back to the homestay. And there it was again. I then decided to try to move down the steep slope through the thick, dark brush to get closer, even though I thought it would be impossible to get close.

I did not need to go far. Almost as soon as I set out, it became apparent that the source of the sound was actually quite close to the edge of the lawn. It was so nearby, in fact, that I was afraid to disturb the animals and most likely silence them if I tried to go down.

I got as close as I deemed prudent and then sat there, listening intently to the melodic segment repeating over and over again. I was unable to see the sound-makers, but since the voices came from dense, low shrubs, I believed that the source of the sound could not be birds, but must be frogs. I now noticed that it was not just a single creature that produced the whole excerpt of the garbage truck melody, or a group singing the same tune. This astounded me even more.

While I squatted at the edge of the slope, I could clearly hear the sounds come from different directions near me, from various points on a left north-west to right north-east angle. This was not due to the sound source moving. Several individuals were issuing a single sound each, from a stable position. I am not certain whether the exact stereophonic pattern was repeated again and again, that is, if each animal produced the same tone or set of tones again and again, but there could be no doubt that the melody was shared by multiple animals, each singing a section of the melody in sequence.

Each animal may have sung only a single note, a technique that musicians refer to as hoketus. Summarizing, the sounds I heard from the animals had the following characteristics:. Structured and regular repetition of pitched sounds. The same pitch sequence, repeated at least a few dozen times and during subsequent nights. In between the sequences there was only silence, with no other singing only the same sequence was sung. The timbre of the animal sounds was pure and sine wave-like. The timbre and structure clearly evoked an association with bird song.

At the onset, each pitch gradually increased in loudness, then was held for more than a second. The melodic sequence was not sung by one animal, but produced alternately, hoketus-like, by different animals, perhaps meters apart: at close range, the pitches came from different directions each time. Time of day was early evening. Time of year was late November. Unfortunately, I was not able to figure out in detail how they did it, nor which species produced the singing. I t was our last night, and I did not have my recording equipment. I had to leave without a recording and decided to return as soon as I could.

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A busy schedule prevented me from doing so in a timely fashion. When I visited the place again, I did not hear the sounds. I have returned several more times, hoping to hear them singing again, to no avail. Ever since, I have been thinking about the sounds of these animals, which sang in chorus, in a strikingly organized and repetitive way, a fragment of the prevalent Taiwanese anthropophony.

In the absence of any concrete material, I have listened to the echoes of their song in my head, trying to make sense of them. I shall now try to reconstruct in more detail what I witnessed and offer a possible solution to this phenomenon. When she passed away, aged 26 or less, she had written about forty compositions. Her early piano piece — Modlitwa dziewicy, Op. It eventually came to be chosen as one of the call signals for garbage trucks by Taiwanese authorities.

The garbage truck version is adapted from the original, having simple waveforms without octaves or chords. The portion of the melody that is of interest in the original piece are two arpeggios broken chords of rapidly ascending notes , because the ascending pattern forms the basis of what I believe was mimicked by the animals.

The original is based on two arpeggios, one starting on E-flat, another on B-flat. The ascending arpeggios are repeated in whole or in part several times, with slight variations. In its adaptation for public use on the trucks, the original melody is somewhat rearranged and transposed to another key. There is up to a semitone difference between lower and higher versions, although a quartertone variance is more common. The two arpeggios may start on G and E-flat or on A-flat and E, with smaller microtonal deviations between them.

The species I may have heard. Searching for possible clues to the species I may have heard, I began to look for collections of frog recordings of Taiwan. However, I did not find any type of frog that was able to make the sustained, pitched sounds I heard. Convinced that I did hear a group of animals singing in an unusual chorus-like fashion, I recently began a new search with online resources.

I started to check the recordings of all the wild frogs and other species I could find in Taidong. Among the dozens of recordings I had heard of Taiwanese frog and bird species until then, I had not found anything reminiscent of the animals I heard singing. But this one precisely matched the sound quality of the tones I heard coming out the scrub years earlier. The bird produced a steady, sine wave-like tone.

Key points:

It started soft and gradually built up in loudness, then holding a pitch that was quite stable and long, about a second. It was also able to sing a wide range of different pitches during a singing bout. The Macaulay Library entries, no. Severinghaus, who wrote the following notes:. There are two types of the short syllabic part, which sometimes consists of two, sometimes three rapid notes. It was this portion of the song that was strikingly similar to the tones I had observed coming out of the shrub, both in its timbre and pitch aspects.

The final, syllabic part was not present in the song I had heard. I had given up on the idea of hearing birds when I located the sound source in the low brush, assuming they had to be frogs. But this information, together with the recording, led me back to my initial assumption that the melody must indeed have been produced by birds. Years after the fact, I resumed my search to explain the presence of unusual melodic singing, perhaps inspired by the anthropophony of the subtropical mountains of South-East Asia. US stocks drop as traders weigh odds for steep Fed rate cut.

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