Siberian Musicians Used the Frozen Surface of the World’s Largest Lake as a Drum

Siberians by chance discovered that Lake Baikal’s frozen waves created an unexpectedly bright sound when one of them fell and thunked the ice with her hand

Baikal Ice
Baikal Ice Image: Наталья Власевская

Siberians living near Lake Baikal, the world's deepest and most voluminous freshwater body, discovered by chance that the lake's frozen waves created an unexpectedly bright sound. It began when one of them fell over and thunked the ice with her hand. Hearing the pleasant noise, her husband stopped to investigate the sound, the Daily News says. There's something special about this spot on the lake: other spots didn't produce the same acoustics, the group said.

"I will always remember the first feeling," Natalya Vlasevskaya, one of the percussionists, told the Daily News. "You see your hand touching the ice, you hear the sound, but your mind just can't take it in. You cannot believe that, yes, this beautiful clear sound is indeed produced by ice."

And, indeed, not everyone is inclined to believe the story of this unique spot. io9:

Since the video came out, there has been a lot of skepticism about whether the ice drumming is real. Is this just a clever edit, or did Etnobit really record those sounds on the ice? Why can't we see any microphones in the shots where they're drumming? Why is this one spot particularly prone to sound, but others aren't?

These are fair questions. Musicians can certainly turn everyday objects into instruments—think of street performers who play tunes on glasses filled with water, or the trashcan-beating percussionists in performances like Stomp. The beauty of the ice story is that it can't be easily proved or disproved: the ice is gone by now, and each person has to decide for herself if she wants to believe in this bit of magic or not.

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