Friday, June 08, 2007

humpback whale songs, produced primarily by lone males during breeding season, consist of patterns of repeating themes and phrases and can range from five to thirty minutes in length. though different songs are sung by whales in different regions of the world, whales in the same region sing essentially the same song at any given point in time. composition changes slowly over time, resulting in a new song each breeding season.

listen to a whale song, and you will hear a collection of Highly Interesting noises. some will make you laugh. some will make you cry. some will make you double check that it is, in fact, a whale swimming by your boat and not a dying cow. but listen to whale songs four or five hours every day, and something extraordinary happens - you start to think in whale.

I've been working in the bioacoustics lab of a professor at UB, listening to recordings of whale songs and classifying the sounds. the first week or so, I'd listen intently a dozen or so times to .450 seconds of a 40 minute clip, scratch my head, then solemnly write down "theme A: dying cow." I'd listen to another half a second, and identify it as "theme B: donkey in labour." theme B repeated. theme A repeated. theme C: parakeet on amphetamine. and on and on.

and then something happened. I was sitting at supper and random, who knows from whom his blessings flow, was parked at my feet. he let out this sort of growl-whine thing he does, which translates roughly to "laura, either give me your carrots now or I'm leaving and you'll have to eat them yourself". "random," I retorted, "you sound like a whale." I said the same thing to my neighbour's edger, the squealing breaks on the car in the next lane, and my late guinea pig. acually, I didn't speak to my late guinea pig. but if I had, I would have told her that she sounded like a whale.

so that's my life. see what this place does to you?

1 comment:

kt said...

but dude - how the hell did you get that job? that sounds AWESOMELY WICKED COOL! (except for the part where you seem to be disintegrating into madness from doing it...)