Listen to your Mother! Planet Earth, giver of life, bringer of destruction, shelter and safety against the hard vacuum of space: she speaks!
The gravity of Sun and Moon, the shifting continents, earthquakes, volcanoes, storms, meteors, and ocean waves all contribute to a powerful upwelling stream of acoustic and seismic energy, a chorus of deep sound from below. Occasionally violent, but usually inaudible to our ears and impalpable to touch, these restless vibrations shimmer across the entire planet, lifting and lowering, flexing and tilting the solid ground, influencing all of us who dwell here on the surface. Subterranean forces unite us all.
The Earthsound Project aims to bring the hidden natural sounds of Earth into conscious awareness. Sensitive seismometers and microbarometers detect the Earth's deep inaudible signals, which are then digitally transposed into audible sound and relayed live to listeners around the world via the Internet and via broadcast radio. Over time, additional sensors will be brought online — seismic, atmospheric, and oceanic — further expanding the vocabulary and dialects of the deep.
What can we now learn from this journey into the depths? What are these whispers of truth that rise from under our feet?
Earthsound sensors are the systems that detect the Earth's inaudible signals and provide the raw material for the Earthsound Project's audio feeds. At present (20150420), there is a single channel: the signals from a subsurface seismometer located in Steuben, Maine. Additional channels will be added to the Project over time.
Earthsound feeds are the delivery systems that transmit the planet's audified signals worldwide (and, eventually, beyond), thereby heightening planetary self-awareness. You can help! You are welcome to rebroadcast these sounds in creative ways. Why not set up a public listening kiosk at your school or in a nearby park or shopping mall. Or perhaps you'd like to set up a micro-power AM or FM transmitter with which to broadcast these sounds into your neighborhood, into the atmosphere, or into space. Contact me for details.
Questions & Answers
- What am I hearing?
- That restless whisshhhhh is the planet's natural background ambience, caused by storm-generated ocean waves interacting with the ocean floor far out at sea. Now and then you may hear the faraway pop! or whoop! of a distant earthquake. And once every week or two you may hear the dramatic boom! of a major earthquake somewhere in the world, as its energy echoes across distant mountain ranges and ocean trenches. If it's a particularly large quake, you'll hear the repeated echoes as its seismic surface waves repeatedly circumnavigate the entire planet.
- Why don't we usually hear these sounds?
- The Earth's seismic sounds are much too low in pitch for us to hear. One way to make them audible is simply to speed them up. It's like spinning a vinyl LP record at a very high speed. In this program the sounds are transposed upward by almost twelve octaves (compare that to the 7 or 8 octaves of a piano!). This is enough to bring many of the Earth's seismic sounds into the range of our ears.
- How is this all done?
- A sensitive seismometer near Pigeon Hill in Steuben, Maine continuously records the natural low-frequency vibrations of the Earth. They are digitally speeded up 1,800×, converted to audio and streamed onto the web. Each five-minute audio segment is an entire week of the Earth's vibrations (1 second listening = 30 minutes real Earth time). As each audio segment ends, the next week-long chunk of up-to-the-minute seismic sound is gathered, speeded up, and replayed. This process repeats indefinitely, yielding the continous audio program that you are hearing.
- What is that brief chime I hear from time to time?
- In this program exactly one week of Earth sound is squeezed into an audio segment about five minutes long (actually, 5:36). At this rate, each second of listening = one-half hour of real Earth time. The chime gently announces the end of one segment and the start of a new one. This new segment also spans exactly one week, but shifted forward in time by about five minutes. It's an endless procession of overlapping week-long "windows" of sound that march steadily forward in time.
- Can I edit, copy, paste, remix, tweak, share, and rebroadcast these sounds?
- Yes, indeed! The Earth belongs to none of us. The project, its text, and its sounds are governed by a Creative Commons BY-NC license, which means that you can do all those things, provided that: (a) you attribute the source sounds to the Earthsound Project and (b) you don't use them for commercial purposes.
- More to come...