There's a link going around that claims the following:
"Want to hear something magical?
Experimental director and playwright, Robert Wilson, caught a hauntingly beautiful piece of music one night, a recording of crickets.
That part is common enough, but then he stretched out the sound as much as one would have to stretch the life of a cricket to equal that of a human, and the result is truly wonderful.”
Clicking that website’s link takes you to https://soundcloud.com/acornavi/jim-wilson-crickets-audio
And what you hear is unbelievable: two overlaid audio tracks; one of crickets at normal speed, and another at a slower speed which sounds incredibly like a church choir in a major tonality.
At the time I write this, the link has well over 300,000 listens and I’ve seen it posted all over.
Curious as I am, and not really buying what I was hearing, I grabbed some beautiful audio of crickets online:
Then I brought it into the Time & Pitch editor in Logic Pro (a professional audio editing software).
I used Classic Mode, which lowers the pitch as you extend the time (much like putting your finger on tape or a record - the slower it goes, the looowwwwer it goes).
I also selected the Pads algorithm, which is suited for polyphonic audio - strings, choirs, chords, etc.
My thinking was this: let’s say the average cricket lifespan is a generous 6 months.
The average human lifespan is 70 years (840 months, not much time either).
That means that for Wilson to stretch "out the sound as much as one would have to stretch the life of a cricket to equal that of a human”, it would require an expansion of 14,000%.
14,000% of 10 seconds = 1400 seconds, i.e. 23.333 minutes. Anyway, I think that would give a decent approximation of what Robert Wilson has claimed to do.
Here are the results of my pitch-shifting:
1. The first audio region is the 10-second original sample.
2. The second region is part of the sample that has been slowed to 40 seconds.
3. The third region is part of the sample that has been slowed to 1 minute, 40 seconds.
4. The fourth region is part of the sample that has been slowed to 2 minutes, 40 seconds.
5. The fifth region is part of the sample that has been slowed to 10 minutes, 40 seconds.
6. The sixth region - I’d need a subwoofer to even hear it. That sample is just over 23 minutes long and is the 1:1 ratio of cricket/human lifespan.
As you can hear, none of this sounds anything like Mr. Wilson’s very human-sounding choir.
There are three final regions I included for fun:
7. The seventh region is all previous regions playing at once. Except for the original sample. Spooky!
8. The eighth region is Mr. Wilson’s recording, sped back up to “human speed”. So that’s 23 minutes of his recording, shrunk down to 10 seconds.
Look, Mr. Wilson’s original is no doubt relaxing and sounds pretty and I used it to help me sleep once. But it is undoubtedly a human singing, or perhaps a manipulated choir loop. It’s not cool to spread around incorrect info and then call it some miraculous evidence of divine intervention in nature. To me, the sound of the crickets are wondrous enough! C’mon folks, let’s try and be less gullible!
To borrow from the great Adam and Jamie…. “MYTH BUSTED”!
Another SoundCloud user has a good post on this subject, if you are interested -
He writes, "The recording originates from a CD made in 1992 by Jim Wilson, which is for sale here:
Please note the testimonial by a Mr Tom Waite, not Tom Waits as some have initially believed.
A portion of the track also features on the song 'Twisted Hair' by Robbie Robertson, released in 1994:
Bonnie Jo Hunt, who sung soprano on the track, was quoted in an interview with saying:
"...they sound exactly like a well-trained church choir to me. And not only that, but it sounded to me like they were singing in the eight-tone scale."