Woodpecker Interlude

Forest Brook (from iStock Photo)I am working on an audio production called Birds and Brooks. It should delight any nature lover. The shared theme of all the tracks is that the gurgling of water will be heard (in many textures and variations). The bird sounds will be on the subtle side (quite intentionally), but a variety of species will be represented, from many locations throughout eastern and central United States. “Birds and Brooks” will be designed to help you relax. You might want to play it in the background while reading, cooking, or doing whatever. You might even want to go to sleep with it playing softly.

What follows is a sample of one of the tracks, which I think I’ll call “Woodpecker Interlude.” I recorded it last summer in Shindagin State Forest. At dawn, I was walking down a dirt road and suddenly was struck by the exquisite beauty of nature’s chorus. A woodpecker was drumming in the distance. A variety of birds were singing, but none too close. And a small brook bubbled and gurgled next to the road. I quickly set up my microphone and started recording. What a marvelous soundscape—a meditative interlude that I think is quite worthy to reflect back into the world:

Dawn chorus and trickling brook. 5:19 am, 14 June 2010, Shindagin State Forest near Caroline, New York. Recorded by Lang Elliott.

What do you think of this recording? Be sure not to play it too loud; the object is to listen at a normal level, equivalent to how loud it would actually be heard in nature (people tend to turn up the volume too much).

Listen for the drums of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, the coos of a Mourning Dove, the cawing of crows, and songs of a variety of songbirds, including: Veery, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird, and Chestnut-sided Warbler (I think). What other bird songs do you hear? I have trouble with the high frequencies, so those of you who are crack birders can help me out with this one.


  1. Lang,
    I have held on to this one because it is so relaxing. I look forward to the day when this is available.

    • David: I too look forward to the day when these recordings become commercially available. It turns out that I’m unable to launch before I head into the field, so that means I will either launch in August, or else after my autumn trip to Australia, in November (probably the latter). I hate such delays, but I must admit that November is a very good launch time. People are settling in the for the winter and beginning to dream of spring and all the wonderful sounds. Perfect launch time for 12-15 titles, don’t you think?

  2. This is a great “wake-up call” soundscape that could get even non-morning people well set for a fine day. I might choose from these and other of your relaxing grounds to variously fall asleep, awaken from sleep, clear mental detritus at 3 p.m., shift moods, etc. I enjoy all of these recent scapes, and for me they could beautifully coexist as a family on one CD.

    • Sharon: I like the categories you suggest:

      1) recordings to help you fall asleep
      2) recording that will help you awaken from sleep
      3) recordings that will help clear mental detritus
      4) recordings aimed at shifting moods (toward the better, I presume)

      There’s a whole new field to be investigated: the use of nature recordings to influence one’s state of mind

  3. Magnificent soundscape Lang. I really like the narration as it will stay with the recording where ever it ends up and gives some introduction as to what the recording is and branding.

  4. Lang, I’m curious. Did you mix various sounds to create the fullness of bird sounds in this soundscape, or were all those birds singing and calling at the same time? If I understand the meaning of soundscape, it’s a mixing of various sounds. Right?

    • Jerry: It’s a totally 100% natural mix. A “soundscape” recording is one that captures the full ambience of a place, the total complement of sounds, as opposed to a directional microphone recording that focuses on a particular subject and excudes sounds from other directions. Special mikes are used that simulate human hearing and capture all the sounds rather than a small proportion of the total soundscape.

  5. I was lead to your blog by a birder friend. We are in the grip of winter where I live and listening to this gave me hope for Spring’s arrival.

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