silent listening: Ice Recordings
January 17, 2010 4:21 AM   Subscribe

Andreas Bick's blog post about "dispersion of sound waves in ice sheets" made the rounds a few days ago. Now he has taken the opportunity "to draw the attention to some other very interesting webpages concerning the sound of ice".
posted by soundofsuburbia (19 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
posted by chillmost at 4:36 AM on January 17, 2010

posted by Jofus at 4:39 AM on January 17, 2010

The sound of ice has pleasant associations for me. Especially the sound of cubes of ice knocking against the sides of my glass. Ice cube sounds.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:19 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nice post....the updated post about the infrasounds is really cool too. Listen to the sample recorded in Antartica.
posted by gigbutt at 5:26 AM on January 17, 2010

Wow. Having grown up on a lake that would freeze in the winter, I forgot all about the crazy sounds that the ice would make (especially when one was alone and far out on the ice). Awesome. Thanks for the flashback. I only wish I recorded the ice myself.
posted by horsemuth at 5:32 AM on January 17, 2010

posted by delmoi at 5:40 AM on January 17, 2010

The sounds you get from the dispersion of sound waves in ice sheets are almost exactly the same as the sounds you get by whacking a spring connected to a pair of cups. Build your own Space Phone and hear it for yourself!
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:48 AM on January 17, 2010

Some Space Phone sounds here.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:53 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

In Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary, Kevin Macdonald, director of Touching the Void talks about how they got the sound for the glacier ice shifting overhead by recording a lion's roar and slowing it way down.
posted by acro at 6:52 AM on January 17, 2010

That's really cool, especially the videos of the icebergs flipping over in the third link. Wouldn't want to be anywhere near, though.

When I was back at home over Christmas, I was out for a walk with my family when we found a small river which had frozen over shortly before the water level underneath dropped, so there were plenty of large chunks of half-inch-thick ice lying along the banks. Throwing them onto the surface of the refrozen river was fantastic - each piece would shatter, sending the fragments spinning outwards in a fan shape.

The noise that each piece made skittering across the ice was like nothing I'd ever heard before, but it did bear some resemblance to the noise that the wires make when the T-Rex tears down the fence in Jurassic Park.
posted by ZsigE at 8:26 AM on January 17, 2010

I wish I could favorite this post a thousand times. My very favorite thing to do in the whole world is to lie on Lake Superior when it's frozen and listen to the ice sounds. It's the most amazing thing ever.
posted by RedEmma at 8:56 AM on January 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Just checking in to say my high school friends and I used to go camping in the winter, and, yeah, there's nothing as awe-inspiring as the sound of the ice on a frozen lake. Especially at sundown, when the temperature drops and the ice starts freezing thicker.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 9:17 AM on January 17, 2010

i remember there was an unspoken yet very clear rule as a kid: NEVER walk on a pond that makes that noise when a rock hits it.
posted by bostran at 9:42 AM on January 17, 2010

I've only spent a goodly amount of time out on thick ice once, about 13 years ago when Deer Creek Reservoir in Utah froze over pretty good. One of my more adventuresome acquaintances decided that it'd be a good opportunity to do something adventuresome, like camping out in the middle of the lake. He went out and checked out the ice thickness and said it was over a foot. So about 20 of us walked a mile or two onto the ice and set up a fire, which didn't really make anything warm, just a little less cold (apparently a frozen-over lake makes a fantastic heat sink).

About 2 in the morning, the sounds started to get really active. To me, they sounded deeper and lower than the recorded stuff here: like lightsaber noises from the star wars movies. Most of the group was a little freaked out by the noise and left, but five of us stuck around, crammed into a 3 man tent, burrowed in, and drifted off half-freezing and listening to the magical noises. It's one of my more fantastic memories.

(Along with waking up with adrenaline surging around 6am when there was a large, pure *CRACK* that sounded like it was right underneath the tent... you might think it's safe, but sometimes, your body just isn't convinced.)
posted by weston at 10:09 AM on January 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I like this.

More than I like Brian Eno.
posted by Splunge at 11:05 AM on January 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

That is great. Simultaneously fills the void left by the freakishly warm winter we're having here in Vancouver, and missing Berlin.
posted by mannequito at 12:09 PM on January 17, 2010

most interesting and beautiful.
thanks for posting.
posted by Substrata at 2:09 PM on January 17, 2010

I grew up in Sydney, where it never gets freezing. When I was about 28 I was living in the UK, and there was a little pond near where I was working that froze. I went down to have a look at this novel thing and was astonished to hear these noises, and the similar pings when i skimmed some stones across.
Nobody have ever mentioned frozen water makes noises!
posted by bystander at 4:19 PM on January 17, 2010

This reminds me of Collin Olan's "Rec01":

two waterproofed contact microphones were frozen inside an approximately 10"x10" block of ice. the ice was then submerged in water and the entire melting process recorded. no processing has been made to this recording with the exception of minor digital errors being removed.
posted by basicchannel at 11:10 AM on January 18, 2010

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