Spectrograms

Spectrograms of baleen whale vocalisations

a spectrogram is a visual representation of sound – it’s a computer program which shows you how loud each pitch in a sound is over time. it’s at the same time mechanical, algorithmic, inorganic, and perceptive, intuitive, beautiful.

Blue Whale Sunset
“Blue Whale Sunset” – the hum of a blue whale song. This one’s fundamental (lowest, main) frequency is around 40hz, which is pretty much the highest they go. Their songs can go down to 10hz, which is well below human hearing.
Seen via Sonic Visualiser: www.sonicvisualiser.org

it’s a bit like how popular it is listening to whalesong relaxation videos online – their songs repitched and relayered, and the multitude of clicks, chirps, blows and tail kicks that aquatic mammals produce omitted to suit our conceptions of beauty.

Minke Whale Wheat Field
Minke Whale Wheat Field: Spectrogram of the clicks of a minke whale. Each vertical red line you can see in the image is one of the clicks, and the horizontal axis is time. Clicks are mainly used for echolocation. Whales – like dolphins and bats – are able to build up an incredibly detailed picture of their environment, giving them a description of objects’ sizes, distances and even density. By scanning each others brains in conjunction to cetaceans’ enlarged amygdalas, they can literally hear emotion.
Again, using Sonic Visualiser: www.sonicvisualiser.org

remember that god’s chorus of crickets track that makes the rounds every few years? it falsely claims to use otherwise unprocessed slowed down cricket sounds, when in reality there’s a choir and heavy processing happening, in order to promote a religious branding.

we alter the world around us for ourselves, and most of the time it’s by our curiosity and observation that actually makes these changes happen, like how a blue whale can look like a sunset, or a minke whale like a wheat field, and how seismic airguns, tunnelling for oil offshore, silences them both

Read & Listen: Seismic Airguns at Ocean Conservation Research

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