Introductory Notes

In Your Ear

by insects.org

Syntonic Music
10 second clip reproduced with kind permission of Syntonic Research Inc.

Sitting on my porch this evening, thinking about how to introduce the third issue of Cultural Entomology Digest, I can’t help but notice the calming serenade of chirping crickets and clicking katydids performing their quadraphonic concert for all who care to listen. Remembering a CD title I had acquired a couple of years ago, I go inside to rummage through my collection until I find “Environments #3: Dawn and Dusk at New Hope, PA.” The cover sports a minimalist sunset and the slogan, “the music of the future isn’t music.” Vaguely remembering the contents, I open up the CD insert and read about Syntonic Research Inc., N.Y. As recompense for leaving the concert outside, I slip in the CD and play the second track containing orthopteroid sounds of dusk in New Hope recorded some six years ago. Reading further, I come across what caused me to remember this recording in the first place. Syntonic Research Inc., comments about trends towards the scarcity of natural sounds and a reduction in the number of people privileged enough to witness them. Their goal is to record these “Environments” for easing exposure for those who hear value in them. They are in the business of promoting the appreciation of these insect sounds through stereo recordings; A fair trade for the “surround-sound” I just left outside.

Sitting on my porch this evening, thinking about how to introduce the third issue of Cultural Entomology Digest, I can’t help but notice the calming serenade of chirping crickets and clicking katydids performing their quadraphonic concert for all who care to listen. Remembering a CD title I had acquired a couple of years ago, I go inside to rummage through my collection until I find “Environments #3: Dawn and Dusk at New Hope, PA.” The cover sports a minimalist sunset and the slogan, “the music of the future isn’t music.” Vaguely remembering the contents, I open up the CD insert and read about Syntonic Research Inc., N.Y. As recompense for leaving the concert outside, I slip in the CD and play the second track containing orthopteroid sounds of dusk in New Hope recorded some six years ago. Reading further, I come across what caused me to remember this recording in the first place. Syntonic Research Inc., comments about trends towards the scarcity of natural sounds and a reduction in the number of people privileged enough to witness them. Their goal is to record these “Environments” for easing exposure for those who hear value in them. They are in the business of promoting the appreciation of these insect sounds through stereo recordings; A fair trade for the “surround-sound” I just left outside. I can’t help but wonder about the norms of public attitude held in Western Society towards insects that are “in your ears.” Unlike some groups of insects that intrude upon mankind in either sight or touch, resulting in the declaration of outright war, how does Western society feel about auditory intrusions?

In compiling this issue, I have been exposed to a profound volume of historic cultural entomology references to “singing insects” within values, beliefs and traditions of classical Greek and Oriental cultures. This enduring relationship is founded upon the human endearment of chirps and clicks as an integral part of life, symbolizing moods, seasons, and inspiring poetry and prose. Appreciation of these insect sounds is culturally ingrained and has resulted in a two and a half thousand year history of crickets held in human captivity for personalized, pre-CD concerts.