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Falling Soundscapes Challenge

Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 10:32 AM

falling apple falling apple (pluuuis/flickr)

When we were putting together our Falling show, we came up with a wishlist of falling scenes we'd love to hear. If you're game, choose one and make an mp3 that's no longer than 25 seconds. Then, upload it to SoundCloud (you can use the widget below).

1) What would it sound like if one thousand superballs fell from the sky and landed on a field of accordions?

2) What would it sound like--from the perspective of a snow flake--to fall into a deep, dark russian forest in the dead of night? Post apocalypse. Not a human or animal left on earth. Just huge old pines. Imagine you’re the snowflake, headed toward them, from dark quiet clouds.

3) You know how your stomach feels when you go down a steep hill or suddenly drop in an elevator? What would it sound like if there was someone in your stomach while that happened? Kinda like Pinnochio, in the belly of the whale, falling in an elevator...

4) Adam has just taken a bite of the apple. All around him man transitions from innocence to guilt/ shame, leaves crumple, flowers blush...what does the fall sound like?

5) What is the sound of a flake of dander falling from off the head of an alien? A flake that gathers speed over a great distance, falls towards earth, and lands smack in the middle of a Jonas Brother’s concert?

6) What is the sound of circus mice trying to make a mousey pyramid (stacking in rows), when suddenly a desert wind blows in a throng of airborne clowns who make the mice laugh so hard they all fall down?

 

Send me your track

And for inspiration, check out how Sebastian "Seabass" Henshaw and Sasha Awn tackled our first falling call: “Two sumo wrestlers, locked in a sweaty-skin embrace, all of a sudden the gymnasium floor gives out under them, they fall crash through. What strange basement or underworld do they fall into?”

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Comments [35]

Dustin from Colorado Springs

@ Benji from Atlanta:

Maybe you should do some research before you bash a professional. I am in Professor Coolidge's class right now and you are talking about something completely different. Sleep paralysis only happens in REM sleep, not within a minute or two of falling asleep.

Nov. 13 2010 09:24 AM
Dustin from Colorado Springs

@ Benji from Atlanta:

Maybe you should do some research before you bash a professional. I am in Professor Coolidge's class right now and you are talking about something completely different. Sleep paralysis only happens in REM sleep, not within a minute or two of falling asleep.

Nov. 13 2010 09:23 AM
Teresa

I love how they used the Wilhelm Scream in the sample.

Oct. 28 2010 11:12 AM
jenny

Why did we have to hear yesterday's program for the second time within the last week? And what happened to Fresh Air. Bummed....I miss it.

Oct. 14 2010 01:23 PM
Jeff from Rochester, NY

The Wilhelm scream in the sumo wrestler's fall just made my day...

Oct. 11 2010 04:19 PM

Metaphorical sound challenges are the best! But I don't actually know how to make mp3s, or I'd be all over the Fall of Man.

Also, hate to be a stickler, okay, no I don't, but proofread proofread proofread!

Jonas Brother's? X

Jonas Brothers' :)

Also, gangrene and dying and the cheering of such was, as several have pointed out, a little over the top. While it is cosmically unfair that a 63-year-old woman is not allowed to be a hero, it's not one individual man's fault that she isn't.

Oct. 07 2010 01:04 AM
Jeff from New York City

Loved the show today as always, especially the segment on the falling cats. That actually happened to my cat. She decided to take a walk out of a 5th story window. Luckily she survived with just some minor abrasions and a broken tooth. Like the vet in your story, my vet said that cats often do not survive when falling or jumping out of windows 3-5 stories up. Below and above that they usually survive.

By the way, there is no 72nd and 6th Ave in Manhattan in this day and age, the supposed location of the animal clinic mentioned in the show unless you are imagining things while standing in Central Park near the Sheep Meadow.

Oct. 02 2010 01:39 AM
Mark Harelik from New York

Jad - in the midst of your terrific Falling show, you and Joan Murray take an un-named barrel-faller to task for repeating Annie Taylor's feat of going over Niagara Falls. You both took delight in his getting gangrene and dying, and declared "There is cosmic justice." Now, this is off point, but you take him sorely to task, and kick him around quite unfairly. I contend that you misuse your reference to cosmic justice. I go further to suggest that you make Cosmic Justice a topic for one of Radiolab's explorations. Is there such a thing? Isn't Cosmic Justice an oxymoron? In any case, best regards to your whole company. Thrilling show. Mark

Oct. 01 2010 09:12 PM
Jesse from Boston

The segment on face blindness made me cry. What a wonderfully sad image: "She faded back into the crowd."

Sep. 29 2010 09:33 PM
Haley

Seriously, these once-every-two-weeks podcasts are not enough. I listen to them as soon as there available on iTunes. MAKE THEM QUICKER. You guys are awesome.

Sep. 29 2010 01:30 PM
John Sideris from Durham, NC

Hi Jad and Robert,

(or should it be Robert and Jad?),

I really enjoyed the show on falling. No surprise; I always love RadioLab.

I have to take issue with the cat story. I read this article several years ago and felt the authors missed rather an obvious alternative explanation. Increased wind resistance, and thus decreased terminal velocity, is a plausible and interesting. I'm not saying it's wrong, but there is another, perhaps simpler, explanation.

It could be a sampling problem. Cats who end up in the emergency room are the cats who survive falls. Given this, they are missing a fairly important sub-population of the population of falling cats. Namely, the ones that die. Couldn't it be that more of the cats who fall from heights greater greater than nine stories died?

The increased severity in injury between 5 and 9 stories supports this. After 9 stories, severity increased such that more cats died and so fewer of them ended up in the ER and were not counted in the survey.

Either way, it's probably a good idea to keep Kitty away from the window.

John

Sep. 29 2010 12:53 PM
WombatMom from NJ

Your podcasts made 8 hours of road trip a total pleasure...even welcomed traffic, since it meant I'd finish a show!

More on words, foreign languages, writing please! As a music therapist, I learned that song is powerful because both sides of the brain are engaged, and as a writer, I am always intrigued at how inexact yet precise words can be!

Sep. 29 2010 08:48 AM
Topher

I love this show too.

A note about the hypnic jerk: when I used to smoke pot, I'd experience little muscle spasms throughout my body - my legs, arms, fingers, face - all over. When I asked my doctor why that would happen, he explained that my muscles were relaxing like they do before going to sleep. That explanation rang true because of the similarity of the sensation, except that the muscle spasms were more micro and diffuse throughout the body.

Now I'm curious - is there really a connection with the hypnic jerk? A quick Google search uncovers a number of blogs connecting marijuana with twitching and spasming, but obviously only some people experience this side effect. Why? And if there is a connection, why does the twitching occur throughout the body? What determines the intensity?

An idea for a future show: the funny and surprising side effects of different drugs.

Sep. 28 2010 06:47 PM
Matt Munisteri from Brooklyn NY

Hi there - I enjoyed your "falling" show, and I would like to share with you, and your listeners, perhaps the most chilling, honest, and revealing essay on a fall that I've ever read. It's written by a friend of mine, J. Walter Hawkes - a fine tombonist and composer and a uniquely bounce-able individual. I believe folks will find it worth their while: http://www.blatomaster.com/newcliff.php

Sep. 28 2010 06:30 PM
Benji from Atlanta

I love your show! Fred Coolidge's idea on hypnic jerks, however, was completely wrong. I find it aggravating when people claim to be experts on something when they're just guessing. His theory that it was related to falling out of trees was a wild stab in the dark. I have to assume he has never experienced a hypnic jerk himself, but merely observed them.

A hypnic jerk is caused by a dream action being strong enough to overcome the muscle paralysis we undergo as we fall asleep. As we're just beginning to fall asleep, that paralysis is sometimes not yet complete, and a strong motion in a dream can be physically expressed, and that sudden violent action shocks us awake. I've done this numerous times, and I remember the dream I was having moments before, and the jerk reflects exactly what I was doing with my dream body.

Sep. 28 2010 09:17 AM
Nicolas O'Donoughue from Laval, Canada

Hi folks
Just discovered your podcast and I like it very much. Thank you for such entertaining and intelligent shows.

I have a personal story I thought you would find interesting and that resembles one of your stories, from “Memory and forgetting”, (June 2007), where you tell the story of a musician, Mr. Clyde Weary, suffering from the most severe case of amnesia: can’t remember anything older than a minute, but still can sing and direct a choir.

Many years ago, my mother had a stroke and suffered from complete aphasia for several weeks. She was at the hospital, struggling to understand what had happened to her, while we tried our best to support and reassure her. But her brain was not allowing her to speak to us. She is a big crossword puzzle buff, so I brought some, but she could not write at all. I remember seeing her going out of her mind, until she tried music; my mother is a pianist, you see, and it appears she could write music and play piano normally, whereas speech and alphabet writing seemed totally out of reach. I even remember her, in her hospital bed, drawing a small piano keyboard on a sheet of paper and “playing” it. In time, she learned to speak again, with some limitations, but the stroke never seemed to limit her musical abilities. That was 20 years ago; at 86, She still plays the piano.

Sep. 27 2010 11:00 PM
Erin from Brooklyn NYC

Hey guys, I've been listening to this show pretty much from the beginning and I just wanted to say, I LOVE WHAT YOU DID WITH THE MUSIC IN THIS ONE!! Keep the mash-ups coming please!!

Sep. 27 2010 05:33 PM
J Tang from Seacoast, NH

I am a RadioLab junkie!
Not my favorite episode, probably because it was a lot more anecdotal than probing.
But still, I am left gaping at the end of each podcast in wait for the next one.
Sometimes I like to fall asleep to RadioLab...

Also, I thought this was appropriate:
http://xkcd.com/417/

<3bombs!

Sep. 27 2010 09:47 AM

hey I'm a great fan of radio lab... but what irritates me is some analogy's(also my english isn't what it used to be so I hope that you all understand what I mean when I make a mistake)

(also Im in no way a science expert so some of the papers//books I read might be wrong)

for instance the gravity/Ellevator

that snipping the cable will turn off gravity
the way you put it that earth only experience gravity because it's moving with is not true, if it where true to your analogy it would mean everyone who lived on the wrong side of the planet would fall off...

every object has gravity, how much depends on size(/mass?) and the distance...

for example bigger planets generate more gravity, but also small objects in your room generate small amounts of gravity wich ofcourse is to small to persieve but it's there in small amounts

Sep. 27 2010 09:04 AM
Kat from Oregon

I'm a big fan of the sound effects that Radiolab uses to convey ideas, you've got a track record of brilliance here. However, in the "Falling" episode I thought the recurring medley of pop songs that refer to falling was extremely distracting. There I was, literally teary-eyed over the segment about Niagra Falls, and then I'm jolted out of it by thinking, "Wait, is that Tom Petty?" Which is not to say that Tom Petty would be inappropriate at the end of a segment by any means, but I've come to expect the fancy sound-engineering segments to be actively teaching some important bit of content, and in this case you were applying a lot of special effects to the packing-peanuts of the filler songs. It messed with the flow!

Sep. 26 2010 11:31 AM
Fabien (A listener from Paris, France) from Paris, France.

Hi guys !
Well this was worth the wait !

I just loved the subject, the audio treatment (and yeah, those sound manipulations are one of the things I enjoy about Radiolab), and the amount of work, care, research, information and love clearly put in here !

And most of all , I LAUGHED so much !
Your "Cats raining over New-York" story killed me : I just could'nt help laughing out loud !

Heh-heh..."Meeeeeoooowwwwww...."

The thing is : It was during my lunchbreak. Just outside the bookstore I work at. Passers-by and colleagues saw me laugh like that. You know, people always assume that wearing earphones means you're listening to music.
Thanks for making me look like a fool.

Can't wait for your next show.

Wether it's fun, challenging, or just mind-opening. Or sometimes genuinely moving because you sometimes do that. (The "Bus Stop" short's one of my favorites.)

Thanks for being around!

Fab(ien).

Sep. 25 2010 05:34 PM
Amy from Orlando

Ditto to Hibiscus' comment! I'm so glad someone else caught that. That was harsh. Really, guys.

But in general, love the show, bring on more episodes, I can't wait!

Sep. 25 2010 09:03 AM
Hibiscus

Decent show, but I was somewhat disturbed that one of your guest referred to a man getting gangrene and dying as proof of "justice in the universe" when as far as she mentioned the the man's only crime was finding success where Annie Taylor did not.

Sep. 25 2010 01:11 AM
Bruce from New Hampshire

Oops, sorry for double post.

Sep. 24 2010 05:52 PM
Bruce from New Hampshire

I just can't take your show. You start with a phenomenally interesting subject that I'd love to hear more about, and then you immediately overwhelm it with utterly unnecessary, largely irrelevant, and way over the top audio effects. Why? You don't have to create that kind of 'fun' to make science fun!

Sep. 24 2010 02:38 PM
Bruce from New Hampshire

I just can't take your show. You start with a phenomenally interesting subject that I'd love to hear more about, and then you immediately overwhelm it with utterly unnecessary, largely irrelevant, and way over the top audio effects. Why? You don't have to create that kind of 'fun' to make science fun!

Sep. 24 2010 02:36 PM

For 'Chris from LA' to ask that you: 'present it like a teacher rather than as some student who's finding out for the 1st time along with you.' I think, misses some of the great appeal of your show.

1) Communication to a wider audience who can take your ideas and spread them in a way that others can relate to. And by others, I mean ordinary people from all walks of life. My neighbour, my colleague, the girl at the bar, my gardener who might never have attended college, is smart, but needs a basic explanation of say, relativity.

2) You also communicate excitement, that we are learning with you. If you knew all about the topic, why would you engage experts? The best way to learn, is to experiment yourself, and I feel that is what your process is.

i feel that you've got the right balance. I enjoy hearing you articulate things in a non-patronising way that is genuine to the process of learning, and, also, through your own reactions, and excellent sound design, I feel like you're bringing us, whatever mode of life we live (doctor, teacher, laborer, bus-driver, or in my case lawyer) into a place where we can use every-day language to discuss ideas and how we relate to them.

So, I like your exposition, in your show, of your genuine joy in learning, and re-learning, and reminding us, of interesting concepts. You take us on the learning process. And gently remind us, whatever stage we're at, what this -idea- or -concept-, actually means to me. And I love that.

Simple doesn't mean simplistic, and I love how you integrate research findings and stories, into an accessible journey, pertinent to our own complex understanding of life.

Keep up the good work. Love it.

Sep. 24 2010 01:26 AM
Shaun from Woy Woy NSW Australia

Hey there, I absolutely love your show! Came across it when I discovered listening to podcasts was a really cool way to keep up with news. But you have changed things yet again. Stuff I am interested in anyway but MAN that way you present it. The most recent podcast I listened to was the way you have fun with sounds through your podcasts to make it better, and you are right. That is a good part of what makes them so cool. As well as making things so interesting and understandable. I don't know how many people I have found myself explaining things to that I wouldn't have understood because of this podcast. And playing snippets of them to my kids and them becoming the wiser for it! Keep up the good work. They are just the best!

Sep. 23 2010 11:39 PM

Chris,
I hear your points but I have to join Beth and "delasantos" in disagreeing with your suggestion.

Your pitch for explanation -- "present it like a teacher" errs on the side of boring. No, thanks. I hope to continue to hear these complicated ideas unpacked for my ears by curious people.

It's great that these concepts come so easy for you. But this is tough stuff. Shouldn't that be all the more reason for you to hope keep to show as inclusive as possible?

Alright, time for a cold beer,
David

Sep. 23 2010 06:36 PM
Beth Snyder from Sacramento

I'm grateful for your exposition when it comes to things such as the theory of relativity. I'm an educated person, but never took physics, or any science or math course beyond the basics, because the arts interested me more. I've always wanted to learn more about basic physics, and this program allows me to do that without signing up for college course that, right now, I simply don't have the time for.

Sep. 23 2010 04:43 PM

Hi there,

Love the show and way you express it.

I respectfully disagree with Chris from LA's small issue with the show regarding 'basic concepts'. It doesn't hurt, and I think you guys are being genuine. Some of these basic ideas/concepts are worth getting excited about, and worth remembering, and bringing home to the audience.

Rather than thinking you guys are 'faking' or 'feigning' 'surprise and shock' over 'basic' concepts, I get the impression that:

a) You're passionate about your subject; and
b) You communicate that to people who wouldn't necessarily apply what they learned in class ito their own experiences, people who would not ordinarily step into a lab every day, let alone attend college; and
c) You 'translate' in some respect, complex topics from left-brained specialists, into an accessible, multi-layered, stimulating and meaningful piece of learning for the rest of us. I love it!

So, I don't find it annoying at all. I think your balance is spot on. In your podcast about the process of making the show, I remember that indeed, you start out as a 'novice', where the goal is to feel 'we' research each topic with you, and 'we' share in these conversation. I feel your excitement, right there with you, as if you are introducing us to several experts, conducting a brilliantly interesting conversation at a cocktail party. Or even a bus stop! Brilliant!

For 'Chris from LA' to ask that you: 'present it like a teacher rather than as some student who's finding out for the 1st time along with you.' I think, misses some of the great appeal of your show.

1) Communication to a wider audience who can take your ideas and spread them in a way that my neighbour, colleague, girl at bar, gardener who might never have attended college, is smart, but needs a basic explanation of say, relativity.

2) You also communicate excitement, that we are learning with you. If you knew all about the topic, why would you engage experts? The best way to learn, is to experiment yourself, and I feel that is what your process is.

I feel that you've got the right balance. I enjoy hearing you articulate things in a non-patronising way that is genuine to the process of learning, and, also, through your own reactions, and excellent sound design, I feel like you're bringing us, whatever mode of life we live (doctor, teacher,bus-driver, lawyer) into a place where we can use every-day language to discuss ideas and how we relate to them.

So, I like your exposition, in your show, of your genuine joy in learning, and re-learning, and reminding us, of interesting concepts. You take us on the learning process. And gently remind us, whatever stage we're at, what this -idea- or -concept-, actually means to me. And I love that.

Simple doesn't mean simplistic, I'm a lawyer so I know that much. I love how you integrate research findings and stories, into an accessible journey, pertinent to our own complex understanding of life.

Keep up the good work. Love it.

Sep. 23 2010 02:09 AM
chris from LA

Just to leave some positivity too, since I'm mostly a positive person and a HUGE fan of Radiolab (its fair to say its changed my life in a not insignificant way) I will say that the sound design has gotten really really good lately, and the last episode Words, was one of the best episodes ever.

Just stop pretending to be amazed for the 1st time when in the course of a story, it becomes necessary to mention, say, that we are all stardust because every atom in our body that's not hydrogen was forged in the core of a star, or something like that.

Sep. 22 2010 11:47 PM
chris from LA

I really wish that during your shows, you guys would not feign ignorance of concepts that are really basic to anyone who has a passing interest in science and philosophy and cool interesting stuff. I thought it was bad when on previous shows you pretended to be blown away by like, basic Descarte, but now you're talking to Brian Greene about general relativity as if your understanding of it were no better than the theory of loop quantum gravity or something.

I know you have to help the story along in that way journalists have to do, and even though I'm sure there are a few radiolab listeners to whom the concept of relativity is still unfamiliar and wholly mindblowing, but YOU GUYS don't have to pretend to be to yourselves be, those people.

All I'm asking is don't fake shock and surprise and go,"oh wow! That's insane!" to really really basic stuff that everyone with half a brain knows about. Just present it like, "and now were going to explain something really cool that some of you may not know about...etc etc etc...which means, that as an object accelerates, time slows down for that object! Isn't that crazy?"

instead of, 'wow, I'm blown away! I think I can subscribe to this, this, what do you call it, general what? Relativity! General Relativity. Yeah, cool! I'm on board."

I'm not asking you to dumb down the show less and risk losing a segment of your audience, I'm asking for a slight shift in tone--just present it like a teacher rather than as some student who's finding out for the 1st time along with you. Pretending to find out along with us isn't as fun as you might think it is. Its really annoying.

At least to me. But everyone I know who listens to Radiolab that I've mentioned this to more or less agrees.

Sep. 22 2010 11:12 PM
Emily Eagle from Seattle

So exciting! Is there a deadline/due date?

Sep. 22 2010 04:55 PM
Robe Flax from Denver

This is hilarious and so awesome. I'm game!!

Sep. 22 2010 02:52 PM

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