NZ Birds vs Extreme Pitchshifting

National Radio in New Zealand has a lovely daily ritual where just before the news they will play a recording of a native NZ bird, and I just discovered that their website has the full collection available for listening to, but also helpfully includes a photo so that next time you’re out wandering around in the bush you can put a name to the face, so to speak – the specific page is here

One of my favourite native NZ birds is the Tui; They are beautiful to look at & are reasonably common wherever there is bush (even in cities) but the sound they create is just so amazing – if you heard a single sound in isolation it is unlikely you would think that a bird created it, more likely an ARP or a Synthi!
Heres an example recording from my library:

Tui mp3

What makes Tuis vocally unique is the fact that they have two voice boxes, and as the pioneering ornithologist Guthrie–Smith observed “much of the Tui’s singing we cannot hear, the notes too high, I suppose, for our human ears, for I have often watched the bird’s throat from but a few yards distance swelling with song entirely inaudible.” I havent as yet recorded a Tui with a microphone like the Sennheiser 80X0 which could capture those frequencies that we can’t hear, but its still interesting to pitchshift the Tui down, as it gives your ear more time to hear what those sounds are made up of….

Tui one octave lower mp3
Tui two octaves lower mp3
Tui three octaves lower mp3

Heres another piece of Tui vocal, with pitch shifted versions:
Tui 2 mp3
Tui 2 one octave lower mp3
Tui 2 two octaves lower mp3
Tui 2 three octaves lower mp3

Apart from hearing the rhythmic & tonal effects more clearly its also interesting to note the reverb which isnt so apparent at normal speed….

Now this is where it gets a little weird, see it seems there is a talking Tui by the name of Woof Woof, who lives in a bird sanctuary in Whangarei… dont believe me? Well go check Woof Woof’s videos out here

7 thoughts on “NZ Birds vs Extreme Pitchshifting

  1. Pingback: Designing Sound » More than 50 Articles/Tutorials about Sound Design, Film and Recording, Plus Wooshes Sound Desing

  2. avmaier

    I recall a lecture in marine biology back in college where a professor sped up/pitch shifted some whale songs and the result sounded like bird song!

    I wonder if you get the opposite effect by extreme pitch shifting birds to the lower end…

  3. Ms Jennifer Matheson

    Hi Tim
    Re: NZ Birds vs Extreme Pitchshifting links.
    i would like to hear the audio of your field records and pitchshifting extra to your descriptions. The links, with exception of the NZ on Air, are getting a ‘404’ unfound pages prompt.
    Warm regards
    Jennifer

    1. tim Post author

      Hi, not sure they exist any more sorry. I have moved hosting too many times, and this post was from 2009 – 12 years ago!
      When I have some spare time I will do some searches, but dont be surprised if they are history

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