SCOTT F. HALL
Summer was hot and dry. In October, a tropical storm rolled in providing three days continuous rain. Frogs fell in love. In fall 2011, a tropical storm on Merritt Island, FL, USA, activated the mating instincts of frogs. I recorded their calls along with the audible background of the wind and rain; I merged this sound print with onomatopoeic music I had written several years earlier. The resulting soundscape Amphibian Ecstasy (When It Rains Reprise) merges my main sources of inspiration: human-made tonal music and sounds found in nature both inanimate, such as rain, waves, wind, thunder, and animate, such as animals and humans. Together these elements comprise a spectrum of sonic experience that operates both as a piece of acoustic ecology and as a metaphor for contemporary media and global communication.
In terms of acoustic ecology, the piece challenges the human reflex to interpret nature in essentially anthropocentric and utilitarian terms. The frogs’ collective desire, expressed through their insistent, needful squeaking, sounds comical to the human ear when suddenly self-awareness dawns on the listener: none of this is for their pleasure or benefit: it is for frogs alone. On the other hand, humans might not be as excluded from the mute indifference of nature after all. The frogs’ mating desire and lonesome calls to each other resemble the all-too-human desire to reach out, to communicate, to diffuse one’s spiritual solitude and to gain existential solace. As the electromagnetic waves of the storm, the scent of ozone rising, and the falling rain set in motion the frogs’ desire for mating, the modern airwaves of global transmission encourage humans to croak to each other across distances in the hope of merging with others of their kind.