Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Cicada Concerto

The sound of a swarm of 17-year cicadas in person is pretty cool. It needs to be mandatory, in-person listing for anyone who designs sounds and timbres for a living.

These cicadas sound like the nice whirring sound a Foxtail nunchucks make when you spin it. There’s a pulsing to it that doesn’t very much in pitch, but not a pulse with nay rhythm or order. You can’t count the beats of a thousand buzzing insects.

I thought the whirring was mostly lots of beating wings. Maybe because I was closer to the middle of them yesterday, or because there’s fewer now that many have done their business, but it’s easier to pick out that the sound is the composite of a thousand ugly screams.

I thought it was cute the day before. Inspired by a Mac Hall comic, I let a few land and crawl around. One little bugger crawled up my on shoulder, sang his little two-note song, and flew off.

Now they screech binotonous as they whack themselves the window next to my bed.


The normal summer cicadas haven't gone anywhere. (The usual local variety apparentlyallegedly sound the same as in Japan — a movie I saw on UHF last year and some Anime — can't remember which — have used the sound as shorthand for "it's now summer".) The regulars were aurally fighting it out with the tourists Monday afternoon. I was rooting for the annual home team with their raspy “ssseeeep-ssseeeep”; they're not any less ugly, but at least they don’t sound like hundreds of faint recordings of "The Torment of Alvin, Simon, and Theodore" played simultaneously.

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