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The Endangered Sounds List

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

January 11, 2012

Comments (5)

Florida Manatee Sea Cow swimming in clear, blue water.What sounds heard today are getting closer to the realm of archival recordings and the domain of the Foley Artist?

Should we be focused on sampling more of these sounds that may never be captured in the wild (both literally and figuratively) again?

Find out what made our community list of Endangered Sounds and share some of your own in today's VOX Daily.

Disappearing Sounds

Just as there are animals, plants and so on that have become endangered, with many species unfortunately having suffered extinction, older technologies fall to the wayside and are no longer employed or produced when newer, faster and more relevant tools come along. These technologies disappear from use, often taking the sounds they used to make with them.

In many parts of the world, sounds such as chalk on a chalkboard, dial-up Internet connection and typewriters are treading dangerously close to the realm of distant memory. As German voice actor Viktor Pavel observed, the sound of a needle being dropped on a vinyl record and fast-forwarding a cassette tape are already fading in terms of sounds one might hear.

One piece of technology that has evolved is the telephone. How many people still use rotary dial phones these days? American voice talent Dick Ervasti noted that the sound of literally dialing a phone number, as opposed to pressing touch-tone buttons, is endangered indeed.

Capturing and Recreating Sounds

Before a sound gets to the stage of endangerment, samples are generally captured in audio or video format for posterity. Archiving sound is integral for future Foley Artists who will need references from which to help them recreate, with some authenticity, sounds from a bygone era. These sounds can make their way into sound effects collections to help film producers, recording engineers and voice talent alike.

You may not have thought of this but recording engineers can also document and archive sounds by going on location to record a subject. Many animal noises are sampled this way when documentaries or natural histories are filmed. In this way, audio engineers can act unwittingly as sonic preservationists! This kind of documentation came in handy for narrator Katherine Kellgren when she did some pachyderm sound effects related research to learn how to snort like a camel in a book she recorded.

If you're thinking about creating sound effects or capturing sounds at home, there's no time like the present to get cracking on what may be one of your last chances to hear something and document it in its natural habitat and use. Word on the street is that niceties such as "please" and "thank you" are also on the Endangered Sounds list :)

What Sounds Would You Put On Your List?

What would you include on a list of sounds rarely heard in today's world? What kind of sounds would you like to capture or recreate?

Comment and let me know!

Best wishes,



Related Topics: German, how to, reading


    how about the sounds carts made at radio stations, especially the squealling and other noises they made when they were wound too tight?? since carts have disappeared from radio stations and other recording studios those sounds are probably gone too

    Posted by:
    • January 12, 2012 9:06 AM

      Telex machines? An 8-track tape moving from one track to another? A red-cockaded woodpecker? A daisy-wheel printer? A mimeograph machine? (Most folks my age also remember that SMELL.) And I still USE a dial phone in my home--well, to talk on, anyway; hardly ever to dial!

      Posted by:

        www.freesound.org (a collaborative database of recorded sounds) is a great resource for this sort of thing, and it's free to use...

        Posted by:

          A large vibrating egg.

          Posted by:
          • Corneilius Freemann
          • January 20, 2012 1:31 PM

            My favorite sound happens here in late summer - it's the chirping of the crickets in the evening. And when I was growing up is happened in the spring - the little peeper frogs in the bog at night.

            Posted by:
            • Patty McGregor
            • January 20, 2012 1:31 PM

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