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Hemmelig Tempo: a study of sounds, seen and heard, in various settings
February 28, 2011 12:53 PM   Subscribe

"The Australian Lyre-bird (Menura superba), the Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos) and the Sky Lark (Alauda arvensis) remain among the most inventive song birds in the natural fauna. The former is known to perform a ritual in which it clears a small circle in the forest and mimics all the other song birds in its’ region. Furthermore, it also interpolates imitations of human-related activities such as snapping photo-apparatuses, growling chain-saws and falling trees. In many respects, the Lyre bird resembles the famous CASIO SK-1 6 bit sampler, but it is not as circuit-bendable." -- this is the introduction to one of the adventures in field research by Hemmelig Tempo. The Norwegian group may be considered to be an experimental musical improvisation trio, but they prefer the title of "research group." If this all sounds a bit chaotic, check out an earlier sound from 1/3 of the trio: DJ Barabass (more noise inside).

More examples of the group's more current work include edited field recordings, experimenting in the lab with a variety of electronic equipment, including a 1970s era PONG game (playing with bounce patterns, routing the output through a mixer then re-routing the output through an oscilloscope), and lots of toy noise makers. There are even clips more on their YouTube account, plus a few new clips are also on Vimeo. See also: the group's official website.

DJ Barabass, mentioned in the last clip above the break, is sound designer Gunnar Innvær. He formed a group, Barabass & The Happy Few, including anthropologist Dr. Eugene Guribye on bass. That clip is a track from one of the group's albums, which they released on their own record label.

And that crazy clip of the Lyrebird mimicking a two different cameras, a car alarm, and a chainsaw felling trees was featured previously.
posted by filthy light thief (14 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Great he saves the sex for the next program. Freakin cliffhanger!!
posted by spicynuts at 12:58 PM on February 28, 2011


"Car alarm birds" - I hear them in all metro and suburban cities from LA to SF in California.
posted by Chuffy at 1:12 PM on February 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've often thought it would be fun to see what the limits of the lyre-birds abilities are, mainly because I love the idea that someone, at some point in the future, would be struck dumb by the cacophony coming out of the bird's mouth;

"What the hell is that noise its making?"

"I don't know, I think maybe a circular saw, and... is that a double bass drum?"

"Yeah, I think so"

"And a bagpipe... and screams, and what is that? Is that... an air-hammer? And a bike bell?"

"What in god's name did this bird see?"

Which is where you cut to me, sitting at a drum kit, revving a saw and jack-hammer, squeezing the bagpipe and shrieking the whole time while the bird stares at me in silent terror.

No, I don't know why my mind comes up with shit like this either.
posted by quin at 1:15 PM on February 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I do kind of dig the album cover from the band's official website link too. The plant as a peripheral is a nice touch.
posted by quin at 1:17 PM on February 28, 2011


When the clip of the Australian Lyre-bird began making the sound of a chainsaw I half expected some kind of segue to a Monte Python skit. I am still a bit skeptical because the sound was incredibly accurate as though it was placed in there during the editing.

But impressive nonetheless.
posted by Rashomon at 1:20 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


As posted a while back, the entire Life of Birds mini-series is on Youtube, directly from the BBC. Sexy bird time is in there, probably in the Finding Partners episode. I'll leave the rest up to you.

quin, I think you should offer yourself as the 4th Hemmelig Tempo member, or perhaps as an off-site collaborator.

That was me trying to re-direct the thread. I doubt it will work.

I didn't realize how awesome the lyrebird was until I found that video clip, which was going to be the last link I added to the post, then I had to find out if it was already on MetaFilter. And it was. So I liked to that post.

And now, I have ruined my own attempt at thread re-direction.

posted by filthy light thief at 1:20 PM on February 28, 2011


And that crazy clip of the Lyrebird mimicking a two different cameras, a car alarm, and a chainsaw felling trees was featured previously.


Don't forget about the deleted documentary footage.
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:31 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


In many respects, the Lyre bird resembles the famous CASIO SK-1 6 bit sampler, but it is not as circuit-bendable.

Oh, it's just as circuit bendable, you just have to be willing to get a bit messy.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:58 PM on February 28, 2011


"Car alarm birds" - I hear them in all metro and suburban cities from LA to SF in California.

I'll bet that was one of their nests I saw, built exclusively from plastic coffee-stirrers.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:29 PM on February 28, 2011


I am still a bit skeptical because the sound was incredibly accurate as though it was placed in there during the editing.

If someone did this in the BBC natural history department it would be severely career limiting.
posted by jaduncan at 3:57 PM on February 28, 2011


Mockingbirds out in the avenues of San Francisco used to mimic that old car alarm string of various sirens. I thought I was mad just remembering it, but these days here's YouTube evidence.
posted by eegphalanges at 6:35 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have one of those in my neighborhood. Specifically, it seems to mimick the car alarms during thunderstorms. I cannot figure out why - maybe it associates the car alarm with bright lights? Or loud crashing sounds?
posted by maryr at 7:36 PM on February 28, 2011


"They are like little DJ's sampling copyrighted sounds" -- best description of a Mockingbird ever.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:21 PM on February 28, 2011


I saw one of these in the wild once. Here's an outdated blog of mine, with a picture and a little bit about the dude - search for Wollomombi Falls. We were walking through the bush to get to the lookout at Wollomombi Falls, and my ex-husband was talking about the bird noises he could identify: kookaburra, a crow, a whip bird, a rifle bird and a magpie; when another couple who were also bushwalking, interrupted our walk (what??you don't do that!) to draw us closer to him. I saw him do the kookaburra sound. There was no doubt that it was him. He was also looking for food in the dirt and scratching and kicking at the ground, throwing the occasional rock into the gorge.
posted by b33j at 12:52 AM on March 1, 2011


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