Notes for "Coyote Songs"


When I was in the Snowy Range I heard the most incredible coyote song.  It had been a rather frustrating trip--two new pack goats and two dogs, none of which had been backpacking before, and so they were constantly going back to camp when I wanted to go off to other lakes.  We’d finally made it to Arrowhead Lake, and much to my relief, everyone stayed put during the night.  I woke up the next morning, and walked over to the edge of the camp to look up to the meadow heading up to the beautiful Shelf Lake, which I felt I surely was not going to be able to get to because of the goats.   How frustrating.                                                                      

All of a sudden, in the pristine morning air, coyotes started singing at me, just a few hundred yards above me in the forest.  They sang a brief song, then the entire song echoed beautifully across the entire range from the north.  It seemed like it had traveled all the way to Rocky Knob, just north of Sheep Lake, then back to me, just below the cliff of Brown’s Peak.  They sang the exact same song a couple more times, and again, the air filled with that spectacular echo.  I’d never heard anything like it.  The coyotes surely knew what a brilliant sound they could get from their spot—-not a knowledge like I was thinking, a separate brain-curious thought, but rather a knowledge that was simply a part of them, deep in their own being.  

I didn’t get a recording of that--I just stood there in wonder.  So, the coyote song I actually used here is one I recorded on a walk down by the rocks here at home.  This song is more relaxed than the agitated song the mountain coyotes were scolding me with.  This is a picture of one of these home coyotes, and surely her voice is one in this recording.   One of the goats sputtered out a warning, and when I turned around, there she was, within 10 feet of me.  She had approached us--5 goats, 3 dogs, me--with full confidence to let us all know we weren’t welcome on her rocks.  She and her mate escorted us home for about a ½ mile.  If I wasn’t too watchful, they’d sneak up and roll one of the dogs.

This is the same coyote that’s on the disk cover.

All of the sounds you hear are created totally from the one coyote recording I took one evening.  Once I transferred that recording onto my programs, I could then play it back on my keyboard, allowing me to play higher or lower, or several notes at once.  I also could add effects.


  1. The Coyotes Knew The background chord sound is based on just one tiny note of the coyote song, clipped down and filtered, then run through some effects.  Above, you can see the blue window in the middle showing the sound wave of the original recording, and the portion of the clip that I eventually used in this first piece, giving me that single tone that I could then use to weave into a layer of background sound.  In each piece, I used a slightly different clip with different effects processing.
  2. Coyote Refracted I used grain wave synthesis on two different parts of recording (taking tiny particles of the original).  Then on top to start and to end I put the original recorded raw wave, and at the ending added a bit of reverb.  
  3. Coyote Mist  I named this “Coyote Mist” with the thought --not of coyotes in the mist-- but rather what it would be if coyotes were a mist.
  4. Coyote Yawn Taking a slightly different portion of the original coyote recorded song, I was able to get a neat little dip of sound.

By the way, I name these after I create them.

  1. Coyote Moonlight  This time I ran one of the tones through an arpeggiator, which automatically produces a series of notes in a particular pattern I can arrange.  I have a wonderful effects processor which allows me to carefully shape where I want the panning between left and right speakers.
  2. Coyote Fur in the Wind  I used a whole variety of step sequences from the arpeggiator, layering one on top of the other throughout.  Then I put a single tone voice over everything, and used the original coyote recording near the end.

I had a wolf hybrid once, and also a little sheltie.  Both had incredible fur that would be so beautiful in the wind, the dark guard hairs being blown to reveal the softer, brown underneath.  I can only imagine how that would be with a pack of coyotes.


  1. Coyote Nips I have only three tracks here, but all using controllers within the  keyboard, giving me access to a whole range of sounds that I have programmed from the original recording.  In one track I used the “mod wheel” to control the frequency of the notes I was playing on the keyboard, which gave the tone its higher and lower waves; and in track 2 I used the “aftertouch” to control the formant (that is, when I pressed harder on the key, the formant distortion was added).  Then track 3 was the highest little flecks of sound on the top keys using the aftertouch.  

8. The Coyote Gift:   This time I just clipped the original sound wave of the coyotes into little chunks and peppered them throughout with little processing.  The chord background was a return to one of my original tones I’d taken out for the first piece.  Finally, I wanted the original coyote sound now to be in the background, as opposed to the prominent surprise in “The Coyotes Knew.”