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“Prepared piano & cricket menace” - Field Recording the 17 year cicada

Organizing Committee:


This summer the east coast brood of the magicicada or 17 year cicada will be emerging here in NY. The mating song that cicada is the loudest among insects, ranging from 90 to above 100 decibels (according to a chart from the National Acoustic Laboratories of Australia that sound level is from angle grinder/personal stereo/ride-on mower to pneumatic hammer/noisy disco/chainsaw) and is described as similar to the sounds made by UFOs in B movies. It is also species specific.

The purpose of this class would be to record insect sounds during this once every 17 year occurrence (other broods in other parts of the country emerge on their own 17 year cycles) at locations here in the 5 boroughs, perhaps in outlying areas as well. There are a number of online resources that are tracking cicada emergences such as that can be used to ensure we find the right environments to record during the short time span (late May/early June to mid July) of this infestation.

While they can be seen as scientific documentation, these recordings could be treated as an artistic source material by participants. They can be manipulated, edited, and used as a part of a larger compositions or treated as objects of interest/beauty in and of themselves. For a good example of this, here is selection from a collection of insect song field recordings that Sublime Frequencies released as Broken Hearted Dragonflies: Insect Electronica from Southeast Asia.

Please post on the blog below if you have questions or ideas for places to go record.
Since this class is more activity based than something relying on traditional teacher/student dynamic, there's no reason that every meeting needs to be more complicated than a few similarly interested people discovering a day that they're all free to go record together. This blog is the easiest way to remain in communication about what people are planning/thinking/doing with this class.
Comments posted on individual meeting pages don't go to everyone who is interested in the class, just to those who are attending that particular meeting, so please post here. 


Take a look, it's the first video contribution to this project!

This animation by Lee Gough uses "Cicada and Traffic" and "Mosquito and Cicadas" as its soundtrack. I hadn't anticipated movies coming out this project but it just shows what cool surprises happen when you turn things over to the public mind!


Hi everyone,
The recording portion of the class is at an end and we've got cool sounds from different people and different locations loaded up here on our soundcloud
So what now? Well, it's time to make things! All the recordings on the site are available for you to download and use, whether you want to chop them up and make new things, use them as a texture in something you've already made, or you just like sitting around and listening to insect sounds. (Don't make fun, there are dozens of us! DOZENS!!)
If you make something from these and would like to share it (which we encourage as the making and sharing is as central to the whole concept as the hiking and recording) email it or Be sure to include information about the name, how you'd like to be credited, as well as which of the recordings you used to as a part of your piece and we'll put it up for people to listen to and download. There's something posted to get the ball rolling; I'm sure that the internet can do many times better many times over, so please, do so and send it us.
Though we still have creating to do, let's take a second to thank everyone whose work and enthusiastic participation has allowed this idea to progress as far as it has. Thank you to everyone who has been keeping up via the emails and the class discussion pages. Thank you Sara, Andrea, and Greg, a big thanks to Jon for his help with the recording demonstrations.
Now go make stuff.

Saturday's recording trip was a success!

The first couple clips are up on soundcloud already:

More to come in the next few days!

Saturday's recording trip was a success!

We have a first few clips on soundcloud:

There will be more to come over the course of the next few days!

THIS SATURDAY: Staten Island Cicada Recording Excursion
RSVP on class blog so that we know how many people to expect

Meeting in front of Whitehall Terminal @12:45
Be sure to bring your recording device, even if its only a smartphone

For this Saturday’s excursion, we’ll be heading to Wolfe’s Pond Park on Staten Island. It’s a fairly sizable wooded park that’s easy to reach via the ferry and Staten Island Railway.

On Saturdays, the Ferry leaves once every hour, so in order to be on the 1:00 ferry, we’ll meet at 12:45 in front of the terminal.

For newcomers to the group, I’ll have a TPSNY sign with me. That way, you don’t have to approach strangers and hope they don’t think you’re crazy when you ask if they’re here because of the insects.

In addition to your recorder, the following items are STRONGLY recommended:
Insect Repellent

Also you should be sure to bring have
Insect Repellent

Sorry to say that twice, but having those with you/on you will help you focus on adding to your collection of cicada sounds and not adding to your collection of miserable experiences.

Just in case you don’t make it in time for the 1:00 ferry, but want to catch up with us at the park, here’s the route we’re taking to get there.

After getting off of the Staten Island Ferry, get on the Staten Island Railway. You can find it in the Ferry terminal. There is only one route on the Staten Island Railway, so you can’t get on the wrong train. (They do sometimes skip stops or stop the train partway through the ride and ask the passengers to disembark. Just wait on the platform for the next train.)
Ride to Prince’s Bay.
Exit the station in the direction of the front of the train. You’ll be on Seguine Ave. Turn left.
Walk down Seguine Ave until you hit Hylan Blvd. It’s about 6 blocks away.  It’s also a much larger intersection than the neighborhood roads you’ve been walking on so you’ll know it when you see it. (Or when you see the street sign, it’s well labeled)
Turn left on Hyland and walk about 2 blocks to Cornelia Ave. Here’s the park! You can enter on either side of the road

The Public School's picture


Field Recording the 17-Year Cicada: Staten Island Excursion
Saturday June 22, 1PM
Staten Island Ferry Terminal
This past weekend's expedition to the cemetery didn't yield much more than a lovely walk and a chance to practice our new-found recording skills on other, non-cicada cemetery subjects. This weekend though, we'll taking an expedition to places with documented cicada sightings.
Staten Island has been reported to overrun with cicadas in many spots. (Check out Radiolab's Cicada Tracker Map here and this article) The Staten Island Greenbelt is a section of parks in southern part of Staten Island that can be accessed via a combination of the Staten Island Ferry, Staten Island Railway, and walking.
This Saturday let's meet at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal at 1 PM. The journey to the greenbelt takes a little over an hour, so this will put us there between 2 and 3, at time frame which should yield us good recording results. 
The ferry is free and your Metrocard should work on the Staten Island Railway.
Please RSVP on the class blog so we have an idea of how many people we should expect to join us. Newcomers are always welcome.
More details, if necessary, will be posted to the blog as the weekend nears.


I could make it then, pending a more specific time and location!

Quick informal poll: how many of those interested think they can make it to the first class on June 12th?

Hi everyone!

We've started scheduling for this course! On Wednesday the 12th we'll have a sound recording basics class for anyone that wants to get a little more comfortable before heading into the field.

Also, now that this is a class we'll have this nifty class blog as a way to streamline communications. Anyone can post to it if they have questions or ideas for places to go record.

Since this class is more activity based than something relying on a traditional teacher/student dynamic there's no reason that every meeting needs to be more complicated than a few similarly interested people discovering a day that they're all available to go record together. This blog is the easiest way to remain in communication about what people are planning/thinking/doing with this class. 


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