Sound Recordings

A man in Laruns, southwestern France, whistling as a form of speech. Like others in the Canary Islands and elsewhere, local people have learned to whistle their language to communicate across long distances. Linguists are studying whistled speech to help understand which sound elements are essential to comprehension.

More Than 80 Cultures Still Speak in Whistles

Dozens of traditional cultures use a whistled form of their native language for long-distance communication. You could, too.

Here are 12 of the rarest doo-wop records ever made. “Can’t Help Loving That Girl of Mine” (1954) by Philadelphia’s 
Hide-A-Ways is, Shively says, the “holy grail of vocal group
collecting.”

A Peek Inside the World's Greatest Record Store

A lovable grouch, obsessed with the magic of American sidewalk harmony, runs the Philadelphia shop

A pygmy blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda) crosses the Indian Ocean and passes near Mirissa, Sri Lanka.

Using Nuclear Bomb Detectors, Scientists Overhear the Secret Songs of a Never-Before-Seen Pygmy Blue Whale Population

The new group is named 'Chagos' after the islands close to where the melodies were detected

A creek runs by moss-covered rocks not far From Sol Duc Falls in Olympic National Park. Researchers have found that listening to natural sounds like running water may benefit human health.

Listening to Nature Gives You a Real Rocky Mountain High

Sounds like birdsong and flowing water may alleviate stress, help lower blood pressure and lead to feelings of tranquility

Fin whale songs are some of the loudest animals in the ocean, producing calls that can reach 189 decibels and are almost as loud as container ships.

New Research

Researchers Use Whale Calls to Probe Undersea Geology

The study finds that fin whale songs are powerful enough to reverberate through the Earth’s crust, allowing scientists to study its thickness and structure

Paredon Records produced music that was literally revolutionary.

From the 'Sidedoor' Podcast: How a Woman-Led Record Label Spread Songs of Protest and Revolution

This episode from the sixth season of the Smithsonian's "Sidedoor" podcast delves into the history of Barbara Dane's revolutionary Paredon Records

The website identifies Iceland’s Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon as one of the world's most relaxing soundscapes.

Virtual Travel

Take a Free Audio Tour of the World's Most Relaxing Destinations

From bird songs in an Indian jungle to the flowing waves of a Sardinian beach, a new tool spotlights 50 soothing soundscapes

No longer masked by city noise, San Francisco sparrows are singing a new tune

The Pandemic Shutdown in San Francisco Had Sparrows Singing Sexier Tunes

Birds adapted to singing above the urban noise chirped lower, softer melodies

A scale model of Stonehenge used to test the ancient monument's acoustics

New Research

Scientists Map Stonehenge's Soundscape

Study of small-scale model sheds light on how conversation, music moved through the massive monument

The sequencer on the 808, a row of 16 color-coded buttons, offered artists a way to store beats they programmed.

The TR-808 Drum Machine Changed the Sound of Pop Music Forever

Sometimes, technology has more impact after it's obsolete

The deadline to submit a haiku for the "Social Distancing, Haiku and You" project is April 16.

Covid-19

This Sound Artist Is Asking People to Record COVID-19 Haikus

Called "Social Distancing, Haiku and You," Alan Nakagawa's project will result in a sound collage that interweaves a multitude of voices

Nesyamun was a priest and scribe whose duties included ritualistic chanting and singing.

Education During Coronavirus

Listen to the Recreated Voice of a 3,000-Year-Old Egyptian Mummy

Media outlets have likened the sound to a "brief groan," a "long, exasperated 'meh' without the 'm,'" and "rather like 'eeuuughhh'"

When the scientists played the sounds of healthy coral ecosystems at damaged reefs, 50 percent more species showed up than at quiet sites.

One Way to Lure Fish Back to Damaged Reefs? Play the Sounds of Living Coral

The find is fascinating, but can’t save these marine ecosystems by itself

A fan carries a copy of ‘Abbey Road’ as he traverses the infamous crosswalk that appears on the album’s cover.

How the Beatles Took Recording Technology to a New Level in 'Abbey Road'

An expert in sound recording details how the band deployed stereo and synthesizers to put a unique artistic stamp on this iconic album

Cool Finds

Listen to the First Known Song of the North Pacific Right Whale

Researchers spent years trying to trace the source of the rhythmic, gunshot pattern to the endangered whale species

Frida Kahlo photographed with Diego Rivera and Malu Block.

Cool Finds

This May Be the Only Known Recording of Frida Kahlo’s Voice

The sound of the speaker on recording, which was found earlier this year, has been described as 'sweet, delicate, very feminine'

152 Nassau

Hitting the High Notes: A Smithsonian Year of Music

The Site of Country Music's First Recorded Hit Is Set to Be Demolished

152 Nassau Street in Atlanta was home to the first country music recording hit made before the genre even had a name

Beach primrose, Oenothera drummondii.

New Research

Flowers Sweeten Up When They Sense Bees Buzzing

A new study suggests plants can 'hear' the humming of nearby pollinators and increase their sugar content in response

Trending Today

Toto's 'Africa' Will Play Forever—Or at Least Until the Next Windstorm—in the Namib Desert

An art installation is playing an endless loop of the 1982 earworm in an undisclosed location in the desert along Africa's southwest coast

Cool Finds

Listen to the Moment the Guns Fell Silent, Ending World War I

A new exhibit at the Imperial War Museum uses seismic data collected during the war to recreate the moment the Armistice went into effect

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