Play Back
By Tessa Tapscott and Frog(s)

Started on: 04/26/13 22:47:19
Medium: Other

This week we went outside around our campus to try to find some animals, or at least evidence of animals, to interact with. As usual, I got side tracked and ended up far behind the group, but this proved beneficial because the calmness allowed for a frog to begin chirping near by. Although I could not see it I took a video to record the noise and tried playing it back to it to see if I could communicate with him in this way. I waited until it was silent for a bit for me to play it back, but I got now response. I wonder if the way it was digitally recorded and then regurgitated made the noise unrecognizable to the frog. It is also possible that it did hear the noise correctly, but did not realize that it was its own voice and perhaps thought that an enemy might be near by and thus did not respond.
Further down the path there was a larger marshy area surrounded by reeds where the air was thick with the sounds of frog croaks and chirps. I again tried to record and play back their noise to them, but I think the din of all the chirping drowned out the sound of my recording. I did feel like it got a little quieter in my section of the marsh, but it did not last for long. I wonder why the played back recording would make the frogs go quiet? I want to know what it sounds like to them.
I know that sometimes a dog or cat will respond to barking or meowing from a television, so evidently some animals can hear and comprehend digitally recorded noises in the same way that humans do. Perhaps some noises let out a certain kind of vibration when made in real life and emit different ones when played from a recording. Also all digital sound recording devices are set up to work for human ears and it is quite likely that frog ears and human ears work differently and thus the digitally manufactured sound that we hear so clearly does not work on a frog.
I had hoped that this might have been a way to talk to or communicate with the frogs, but it sort of did the opposite, though I guess shutting them up is some kind of communication. Perhaps it would be used to control the noise of loud frogs, one could install speakers that could play frog noises back at loud frogs and perhaps it could get them to quiet down, though “loud frogs” are rarely a common noise complaint. I would be interested in seeing how other types of animals respond to hearing their own noises played back to them from a digital recording device, I hope to try it with the pigs on Monday.

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