Whalesong and ocean sounds
September 7, 2008 2:26 PM   Subscribe

The Jupiter Foundation and the Whalesong Project are both organizations which record humpback whale songs from floating buoys; some of their archived recordings can be found here, here, and here. (Warning, last two may resize your browser.) DOSITS hosts a more comprehensive collection of oceanic sounds, with seals and fish along with its whales and dolphins. It also has a couple of nice sections on how animals use sounds in the ocean. (Previously.)

A few more whale songs may be found here and here.
posted by Upton O'Good (9 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You might be interested in the musician Paul Winter who over his career -- in collaboration with biologist Dr. Roger Payne [Salon interview] -- has produced music, "played" duets with whales (and other sea creatures) and employed whale songs as melody lines for some songs.

Check out some of his albums:
Songs of the Humpback Whale.

Whales Alive.

Deep Voices.


Common Ground.
BTW -- Dr. Payne "is best known for his discovery (with Scott McVay) that Humpback whales sing songs, and for his theory that the sounds of fin and blue whales can be heard across oceans. He has studied the behavior of whales since 1967 and is founder and President of the Whale Conservation Institute [Ocean Allliance]." Payne was also the director and writer of the IMAX film, 'Whales.'
posted by ericb at 3:04 PM on September 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

And then there's a little friend of mine who by age five already wanted to study whales when she grows up and has been practicing her own whale songs.
posted by twsf at 3:16 PM on September 7, 2008

Hey, that's great. There's a joke I recently heard that's related.

A whale walks into a bar, has a box of dynamite under one flipper and a little rottweiler under the other, going "Grrou-grou-grow!" Bartend takes one look at the whale and says, 'Hey! You can't bring that in here!' And then the whale says 'oooooohhhhhhhhhohohohohhaaaauauauauauauuauauauuaauauauooaoooooooooaoaoaoaouauuuauauauuauoauououhuhuhuhuhohohoooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhouhohuohuohuhouhohhuhuhuhhhhhhhhhuuuauauauauaaaaaaaaaauuuuu....'

For the punch line it helps to make a ridiculous whale face, and keep the noise going for as long as your lungs will possilby allow you to. Which should be long enough to make everyone in the room incredibly uncomfortable.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:43 PM on September 7, 2008 [2 favorites]

And then, of course, there's the animal behavior library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology where you can visualize the sounds while playing them.
posted by bloomicy at 4:15 PM on September 7, 2008

The late Dr. Carl Sagan had a beautiful segment on whale communications in his tv series Cosmos. His demonstration of the development of a whale song is worth checking out too.
posted by SteveFlamingo at 4:32 PM on September 7, 2008

If you saw the most recent Werner Herzog documentary, you might remember that the Weddell seal makes strange and electronic-sounding noises - really not what you'd expect at all.
posted by with hidden noise at 4:41 PM on September 7, 2008

Songs of the Humpback Whale is a great album. I got introduced to it through a friend, who'd found it in her parents' LP collection.

There's also George Crumb's piece for electric flute, electric cello, crotales and piano, Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale). (Part II, Part III).
posted by invitapriore at 5:35 PM on September 7, 2008

Hey, thanks for the great post, Upton.

More animal music: my buddy Dave Soldier works with Thai elephants.

Also, Brazil's eccentric musical genius Hermeto Pascoal has a history of working with animal sounds. He's been known to bring pigs into the recording studio as well as onstage, where he strategically squeezes them in order to make them squeel. Then there's his wonderful collaborations with frogs. And here's Hermeto at the zoo.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:03 PM on September 7, 2008

Judy Collins' Farewell to Tarwathie (1970: lyrics) is hauntingly beautiful.
posted by cenoxo at 9:43 PM on September 7, 2008

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