Gently gurgling brook with subtle bird song. 6am, 21 April 2016, Shindagin Hollow near Brooktondale, N.Y. © Lang Elliott. For optimal meditative effect, please play at a low volume that simulates the actual listening experience in nature.
Today, I decided to record the gentle gurgling of a forest brook, along with ambient bird sounds. I rose at 5am and headed for Shindagin Hollow, one of my favorite recording locations not far from my hometown of Ithaca, New York. I set up my soundscape microphone and then took a long walk, returning after about an hour and a half.
Although some migrating songbirds have returned, the dawn chorus in forested habitats is still very thin. Later in the morning, when I analyzed this recording in my studio, I was pleased that no birds came close to the microphone. I was also relieved that no jets flew over and no cars drove by. Thus I was successful in getting as very gentle 90-minute soundscape, with pleasing water sounds and subtle bird songs.
Listening closely during the first couple of minutes, I hear a Hermit Thrush singing in the distance, the soft trills of a Junco (or is that a Swamp Sparrow?), distant Robin songs, and the uneven drum of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. A little later, I believe I hear the high-pitched songs of a Brown Creeper. Toward the end of this excerpt, a warbler chimes in, but I’m not sure which one (any ideas … or is it a Blue-headed Vireo?). Am I missing any species (one sharp listener and commenter believes that he hears Swamp Sparrow and Song Sparrow calls)?
So what does everyone think of this recording? If you like the gentle gurgling of water, then I think this is very tranquil, with nothing that jars the ear. If you don’t like water sounds, then I guess this will not be a favorite. Please chime-in and let me know your thoughts. I might publish the entire recording, which includes a number of other distant bird songs and calls, including those of Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jay, and American Crow.
Might a long version (80-90 minutes) be of interest to massage therapists and meditators? Is the gurgling of the water at a good level, or is it perhaps too loud (given, of course, that you’re playing the recording softly, as I always suggest)? Yes, I would really like to know your thoughts.
NOTE: Truth be told, I have severe high frequency hearing loss, so my identifications of high-pitched bird songs are done visually, by looking at sound-pictures (sonograms) of recordings. I’ve gotten fairly good at identifying this way, though it doesn’t hold a candle to actually hearing those birds. Given my hearing deficit, it seems crazy that I do the work that I do!
[…] Source: musicofnature.com […]
For my ears the sound of the brook is too loud in relation to the far-away gentle volume of the birds. I’ve got my earphone volume turned down low, but still it is not very relaxing for me. Perhaps you could try a recording with the microphone further away from the stream. Your intention is a lovely one, in any case.
Donna: Check out some of my more recent recordings that feature stream and bird song mixes. Let me know if you find them to have a more agreeable balance. I’m always trying to home-in on the right distance I should place my microphone … close enough to hear the subtle gurgles of the water, yet not too close. It’s never an easy choice.
I signed up for your email and have not received one. I love what you do!
Marie: are you now receiving my newsletters?
Lovely recording! I love Shindagin and was there this morning, but I don’t recognize the photo–where is this? I’d like to go there. As to the birds–for sure, Brown Creeper near the end. Not sure about the possible warbler, but we have a Purple Finch at home that just started singing an odd song that is very similar to your mystery song at the end. Doesn’t sound like a BH Vireo or warbler to me, but haven’t fully tuned my spring ears yet.
Sandy: That photo was taken at the very beginning of the balsam flat at the bottom of the hollow. In other words, when you drive down the road, park right where it levels out and then walk-in to your left. It was a little upstream from that location, I believe.
I absolutely love this Lang. Very restful and comforting.
Hi Lang, we met a very long time ago through Bill Evans. Chris D. shared your audio file with me…I am a local massage therapist. I have had many clients ask for water sounds and it would be quite a delight to offer them water music from Shindagin Hollow! i personally agree with your listener who says this particular brook is a bit intense. But I have a few clients who might enjoy it.
I remember you well Jenna. Please check out some of my newer water + bird recordings and let me know if you like the balance. I’m always trying to home-in on what might work best for relaxation and meditation.
Lang, I find this to be oh so sweet and sweeter still that it was made in nearly my back yard! I’m going to share this w/ a couple of my massage therapist friends, but for me, as a recipient, I would absolutely choose this to add to my own meditation or whilst receiving a massage!
Thank you for your beautiful work!
Love the birdsong background on this. I actually find the water sound to not be super meditative as it is rushing a bit too intensely for my taste. Just my opinion. I still think it is an amazing recording. I once asked a massage therapist friend if she would like a peaceful recording I made of a brook and bird calls and she told me she did not like water sounds to play for clients because they made some of them have to go to the bathroom 🙂
tonight I am listening and enjoying it all. I also have a hearing loss, my hearing aides I purchased at a clinic for 6000.00. I have since found out that the very same ones are at
Costco for 2500.00. I am very upset for the sham.Live and learn.I do not have my hearing aids in and I can hear this perfect. I bought some sound computer adapters they work great.
Love this thank you.
Glad to hear that you like it Jan!
I would love a longer version of this recording. It is very calming and would be useful for trying to relax and rest. I’ve been hoping for something like this to play when I go to bed. I think it is at a perfect volume level for myself. Personally, I wouldn’t change a thing.
sorry for so many comments but one other thought i had. have you ever considered making a few very brief–like 10 second ==clips of your water or bird sounds for ringtones? i did that for myself and can’t believe how different it is to hear that when the phone “rings” rather than all the awful stuff out there you hear. but of course anything you made woudl be of much greater quality than my own clip. when you get your store up, you could sell them for a small fee. it certainly is not the work of art that your… Read more »
Ringtones are a bit of a pain to distribute correctly. I’ve provided sounds for lots of ringtones, but ones distributed by other businesses.
oh well, just a thought. i thought you could just sell like a 15 second sound clip. but anway , much bettter to get to enjoy a full CD
Absolutley Love the water gurlgle” Very comforting
I’m curious, not really related to this but have you ever considered a recording with very light high tinkling of quality wind chimes with one of your water recordings?
Billie: Yes, I’m considering doing just that.
Please do make an extended of this! Is what I’ve been looking for. Water sound absolutely perfect for soothing, doesn’t have the metallic synthesized sound so many do, and water not too sharp or aggressive. Birds just right volume level to add beauty but not jarring. Sometimes there is construction or machinery near me and I so want something soothing to put on to mask it. This would be perfect
Hello, Lang – I am so grateful to have discovered your blog and wonderful recordings. I lived in the Ithaca area 35+ years ago and it lifts my spirits to revisit there through you. I feel as though I am at the stream side.
My vote is for you to offer a longer version for sale. It would be such a calming background.
Lang, this is one of the most peaceful recordings ever — thank you!
And yes, for me, this is great for meditation. Also, I don’t think it’s at all crazy that you do this work, hearing deficit or no. It’s your love of beauty and desire to share it that matters. After all, Beethoven was deaf when he wrote his greatest works.
I still think it’s a bit crazy, but I’m most certainly not going to give it up!
Lang, it’s beautiful! I would certainly add this to my nature sound recording collection. Sounds like a Wood Thrush in there; heavenly!
Beautiful, I love it. Yes, to a longer one.
This is beautiful! I have it playing at my desk at work and it is very calming. I need it right now! Thank you! I would like to buy a long recording.
I think the consensus is clear. All votes for, no votes against … at least so far.
I find this recording very relaxing, and yes, I think my massage therapist would use this during a session. I know I would enjoy it.
I love this recording very much. I could listen to it for hours. I suffer from terrible insomnia so when I need to shut down but can’t sleep your recordings help me so much. I would love the long version of this for sure!
Sandy: Then I believe I will offer it as a product in my store, which I’m currently re-designing. Once the new store is up (next week sometime?), I’ll busy myself adding new titles, which will include several meditative themes.
That sounds so wonderful!! Thanks so much Lang! I have always thoroughly enjoyed all of your recordings!
That’s great, hopefully have this one soon
Love this “nature music” …the birds come in just at the right time!
beautiful and sooooo sooothing.. thank you!
I love this. A longer version cd would be great, Thank you.
Heh heh, so sweetly drowsy I misspelled my name!
Soft water sounds so soothing, night noise white noise perfect for drifting off to z z z zzzzzzz
Oh, where was I? I thought this might seem topsy turvy, background reversed with usual foreground, but no, I love it. Just as is, could listen for hours with absolutely no need to ID any voice, yet somehow reassuring to hear the birds are in their wood, all’s well in their world. What better lullaby for human spirit? Night all …
nighty night Sharoh
Love it! Thanks
You’re welcome Gena!
I absolutely love this water recording. Water is the most relaxing and beautiful sound to me, along with the birds in the background. I do not think the sounds of the water are too prominent, in fact, just right.
Thanks Judy. I like the balance as well, although I’ll also be gathering soundscapes with water sources that are just simple “trickles” … well defined, yet light and tinkly. It’s all experimental. Seems easy, but it isn’t. The major problem being disturbances … jets, cars, dogs, roosters, you name it.
Love the trickles idea too
Certainly some Robins in there, no?
Yes, now I hear those robins.
Beautiful recording. I am sitting on a damp log just above the convergence of two brooks, quite comfortably after a long hike, but it is rather damp and I might prefer to transition to another location before the passage of ten or fifteen minutes.
The brook masks some of the bird song, but you might have a song sparrow chimping, a swamp sparrow calling from a shrubby marsh stage left, and a blue-headed vireo singing in a fragmentary way for the coda. You are correct about the brown creeper.
Yes, as noted above, the American robin chimes in at 00:13 and makes a few sporadic remarks after that. Nice that this loops while I am working. – N
I still don’t hear the robin. What do you think produced the outburst at 2.5 secs?
Veery? Love the penny whistle sound.
Pennywhistle? At what times?
Gee, I don’t know. Fragment of Blue-gray gnatcatcher’s song? You might have to go back into the pre-record before 00:00. At 62 I am good to at about 10 or 11 kHz (and steeply rolls off from there).
alas, I cannot hear a thing above 3kHz (due to an accident with firecrackers when I was around 10 years old). I added a “Note” to my blog post about this. I actually ID the high-pitchers by looking at a sonogram. It’s crazy that I do the work that I do.
no gnatcatchers at that location … though i guess it’s remotely possible
I heard the chip calls and it is quite possible that those are from a Swamp Sparrow. I don’t hear the chimp calls. The songs at the end could very well be a Blue-headed Vireo. I actually thought that at first, then changed my mind. So I’ll modify my post in light of your observation,
Norm: I just watched your Sudbury Valley Trustees video of singing insects + beaver, etc. Lovely! Are you doing of lot of this kind of thing? Do you have a Vimeo or Youtube channel, or a collection of your work posted somewhere else?
ah … i found you: theindwellingspider.wordpress.com
In Nocturne, how did you get the closing footage of the sliver-of-a-moon setting behind a tree silhouette. I don’t think my video cameras are sensitive enough to do that.
Lang, they are sensitive enough. I use a cheap small-chip plastic bridge camera. Feel welcome to contact me privately for details so as not to bore your audience with the techy stuff.
The Vimeo and WP sites are platforms for my kooky experiments on the membership of my local land trusts, with the upshot that it is a fun hobby for me. I don’t promote the sites for reasons of my own technical ineptitude and the possibility of misidentifications.
I am still listening to this recording and take back what I wrote earlier. Good luck with your new store! N
I love a gentle water sound. The volume of birdsong is just right too–very much like I am in the real environment. Yes, I would love to add this as a cd to the others of yours I have.
I just checked for my picture on Gravatar and it is there but not showing up here!
Nanne: Make sure you’re using the same email that you registered with Gravatar… that’s the way it works. WordPress queries Gravatar to see if there’s a pic to correspond to the commenter’s email.
Wonderful! Relaxing, serene, nothing like the ethereal notes of a Hermit Thrush to induce complete calm. Thanks for the respite.
Wonderful! Relaxing, serene, and nothing like the ethereal notes of a Hermit Thrush to truly transport you.
I was quite happy that no birds sang loudly. Within a week or ten days, the dawn chorus will really pick up and it will become exceedingly difficult to capture soundscapes with subtle bird songs.
Hey Juanita … how come your avatar is showing?