I’ve been asked to contribute to a compilation on Sonospace by Jeremy Hegge, who is curating the project. The brief was ‘field recordings that focus primarily on “nature” sounds, but the more unusual/hidden the sounds the better’. Jeremy used a recording of insects and lizards in dry grass I made several years ago at a campsite in Wales as an example.
Originally the plan was to go down to the rocks at Sandsend at low tide at night to record limpets. To be able to capture the sound of these molluscs feeding, rasping away at the algae coated rocks with their radulas, would be amazing. However a lack of research, failing torch batteries and the difficulty of sticking contact mics to limpet shells scuppered the plan. All my fault of course, and to be out on the deserted rocks at midnight with a full moon beaming down and the gentle rhythmic waves of a calm sea was undeniably beautiful, even if nothing was recorded.
Plan B was to go to go onto the moors on the off-chance of coming across something interesting. The sun was hot, the path was dry and crickets were chirping away in the heather. I was surprised to come across a small puddle absolutely full of tadpoles, minute water boatmen and tubifex worms. Obviously I placed a couple of hydrophones in it, and was quite astonished by the results. The sound generated by these tiny froglets vigorously swimming by thrashing their muscular tails was quite unexpected.
The only other person I saw on that path was Charlotte, a teacher from a school in Wiltshire who was actually quite interested in what I was up to. She too was amazed by the sound of the tadpoles when she had a listen on the headphones. At the mercy of forces beyond their control, as their environment shrinks around them, with resources dwindling, becoming more isolated and starved of oxygen, the metaphors write themselves. I suspect that as the hot weather has continued, the puddle and all its inhabitants are now gone.
As (I hope) it will be included in the forthcoming compilation I’m not going to post the actual recording here, but as soon as it is made available on Sonospace along with other fascinating hidden natures, I’ll let you know.