Amazon Dreams

photo of peruvian amazon waterfallIn 2002, I visited the Peruvian Amazon with my friend Ted Mack. We went there as part of a herpetology/ornithology tour sponsored by Margarita Tours. We flew into Iquitos and then went downriver to three refuges that are part of Project Amazonas, a very exciting non-profit medical, educational, and research effort.

The jungle soundscape literally blew me away. I’ve never heard such combinations of sounds. There is nothing in North America that is anything like it. The following recording is from the Madre Selva Biological Station:

A jungle soundscape recorded in early January of 2002 at the Madre Selva Biological Station about a day downriver from Iquitos, Peru. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

photo of Lang ElliottI consider this pure magic, an absolutely amazing and haunting soundscape by any standard. At the bottom of the frequency scale we hear the repeated wop! calls of jungle frogs, Leptodactylus pentodactylus (I think). A bird gives musical whistles every thirty seconds or so; I believe it is a tinamou. HIgher up cicadas periodically sound off with buzzy yet musical tones. About two-thirds through, several toucans call raucously in the distance. Higher yet is a diverse insect chorus. Throughout, one hears the snaps and pops of water drops and the like falling to the ground from the towering canopy—a signature sound of jungles everywhere.

Quite unbelievable, huh?

My Amazon soundscapes have gotten me excited. Initially, I envisioned my forthcoming “Soundscape Series” products to be focused entirely on North American habitats and species. But listening to my material (and Ted’s recordings) from the Amazon has changed my mind. I’m so enthused that each year I plan to go an expedition to some faraway place (Australia next autumn!) so as to get material for additional titles. The Amazon soundscapes will comprise my first such title, which I believe I’m going to call Amazon Dreams. Imagine going to sleep to this!

Comments

  1. trbirdnerd says:

    I love this recording! I’ve always wanted to go to South America! Amazon Dreams is such an appropriate name for this soundscape it’s not even funny!

  2. OK.. I understand most of what you are saying but it is a lot to digest. I know it will sink in later on. Your writing is concise and to the point. By the way, Amazon Dreams | The Music of Nature was a great choice for a title.

  3. Wil Hershberger says:

    This is gorgeous. What an amazing soundscape!

  4. Outstanding recording Lang! I agree, I think what makes this recording very rich is the diversity of frequencies you hear (lows/mids/high), forest reverberation and of course, the balance.

    Saludos
    Antonio Celis

    • Antonio: It is so good to hear from you. I’m pleased that you’re tuning in to my posts and I’m certain you will enjoy all the soundscapes, even if they are just measly two-channel renderings. : >)

  5. Pure magic as is.

  6. David Michael says:

    I think what makes this recording particularly appealing is the balance of frequencies – like one long sustaining full chord that reaches all the way up to the top of the spectrum. It is very full. Each caller lives comfortably in its own band.

  7. Siobhan McClory says:

    So, so beautiful, this is truly amazing, Lang.

    siobhan

  8. bob mcguire bob mcguire says:

    Now you’ve got it! Good balance. Nothing overly loud. Lots going on in the background to provide counterpoint to the jungle frogs.

    Bob

  9. Chris Parrish says:

    Beautiful tropical soundscape! The distant haunting whistles are surely tinamous calling. The long, etherial quality suggests the genus Tinamus rather than Crypturellus, and the punctuated phrases suggest Great Tinamou (Tinamus major) rather than White-throated Tinamou (Tinamous guttatus). There are recordings of these species on xeno-canto.org.

    • Chris: Yes, I think it is a tinamou, though I’m not at all sure which one. I have excellent recordings of Undulated and Cinereous Tinamous, and this song doesn’t match either. Great Tinamou is a possibility, but the examples on xeno-canto aren’t quite the same. Notice the brief high-pitched and down-slurred introductory note in the first song, followed by more typical tinamou-like drawn-out whistles. Did you hear that intro note on any of the xeno-canto recordings? It’d be nice to nail it down for sure.

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