A Frog's World of Love

  1. 1
    Making A Splash In My Speedo
    1:39
    • FormatWAV
    • Bit Rate32 Bit Float
    • Sample Rate44.100 kHz

    There are four instruments constructed from the frog sounds:

    The opening boings are created with iZotope’s Iris2 program, taking a tiny sliver of the frog sound.   I enhanced that with Cableguys Filtershaper3 (which produced the great bloops of sound within those boings), with the Cableguys Shaperbox adding panning on two frequency levels and finishing off with Eventide’s reverb, Blackhole.  

    The second is the warble that developed from those first boings, which is the original frog sound, now played through HALion down several octaves, and enhanced with PhoenixVerb and the Shaperbox Pan.  My intention was to get a sound which would ooze out of the first boings.

    The third instrument is the frog sound developed from grain analysis with the Palindrome program, which is the woodpecker-like sounds at :47”.  

    This was enhanced with a Soundtoys effect rack setting which included the Crystallizer, giving it the shimmering sound, and that was run through the Cableguys’ PanCake set on a random, rapid panning. 

    Then finally the fourth instrument was developed from Padshop2, again just a tiny sliver of the frog sound.  That was run through Eventide’s H910 dual harmonizer, giving it the slightly out-of-tune chorusing effect, along with their Shimmerverb, producing the upper and lower perfect intervals.  

    Finally, the second instrument from the original frog call (HALion) returns to finish out the piece, this time with an increase of the effect from Shimmerverb, a tweaked version of their preset “Percussion Splash,” hence the title of the piece.

  2. 2
    Is It Love, Or Just The Cool Of The Evening
    1:58
    • FormatWAV
    • Bit Rate32 Bit Float
    • Sample Rate44.100 kHz

    Just two sounds are used in this.  The clean low drum sound was from the HALion recording of the frog sound, run through Eventide’s Physion which allowed me to isolate and emphasize the deep percussion sound.  These come in the middle as higher frum tones, then with a different reverb, Soundtoys’ Little Plate.  The top melodic sounds are the Padshop frog tones used in the previous piece, still with the H910 dual harmonizer and the Shimmerverb.  The very end introduces one low tone which opens up the bass a tiny bit.

  3. 3
    Deep In The Mud With My Love Love Love
    1:39
    • FormatWAV
    • Bit Rate32 Bit Float
    • Sample Rate44.100 kHz

    This was a bear to master.  The low, opening tones are so deep as to throw everything dynamically out of whack, in addition to being muddy.  There are four different sounds developed from the frog call:

    The opening muddy ostinato sound has an extra beat in it to provide a bit of lopsidedness.  The sound itself was isolated and snatched from a bit of the frog call which had an interesting effect of the lower, scratchy part of the frog call.  To help clean it up a bit, I had to resort to using the RX8 de-click and Steinberg’s SoftClipper.  Low frequencies are hard for me to master, in all senses of the word!

    The drum-like sounds are the same as the previous piece, but now used a bit higher.  The higher snap sound was an isolated segment of the ring modulator when I ran the frog call through Phase Plant.

    Finally, the tune is a return to the same melodic instrument used in the previous two pieces.  I liked the way that the standard, rather corny tune could barely be made out through all the muddiness and out-of-tuneness of the sound.

  4. 4
    My Song's In Your Mind, Isn't It
    0:47
    • FormatWAV
    • Bit Rate32 Bit Float
    • Sample Rate44.100kHz

    The opening waft of sound is the same sound as the melodic sources from before.  

    The rhythmic pattern that comes in and out was carved out in Phase Plant.  There are two sounds that comprise the overall sound--a wavetable analysis of a tiny portion of the frog.  There are several effects, including ensemble--a type of chorusing, the ring modulator (which was the source for a sound in the previous piece), and the Trance Gate, and a Transient Shaper, which allowed me to sharpen up the attack of the tones a bit.  The Formant Filter was controlled by the random LFO, making the sound waft between dark and light resonances.  The Trance Gate turned the sound on and off, depending on the cycle it was running through, and that was set rather fast, at 1/32 note, and that’s what gave the whole thing that rhythmic pulse.  It was set for a 17 note figure, so it’s a bit off from just a standard boring beat.  The envelope of the entire sound had an extended delay.  Finally, the neat bloops and quick pitch changes came from controlling the ring modulator’s frequency  with my keyboard aftertouch--the amount of pressure I exerted down on the key after the initial key stroke.   

    This is written as if I planned this all out.  It’s just the opposite--I try things out, and then keep the things I like….  When I record these, I export three versions according to the bit rate for different playback systems.  Each time I recorded this piece different effects of the ring modulator occurred.  So there’s even chance at the final stage...

  5. 5
    Sit And Watch The Stars With Me
    1:05
    • FormatWAV
    • Bit Rate32 Bit Float
    • Sample Rate44.100 kHz

    The opening sound is from Phase Plant, based on three different sources of the original frog call.  The first two sounds are just one chunk of the call taken from HALion with the Blackhole reverb embedded in it, with the harmonics an octave apart, presented as a slow loop, each a different rate of speed.  Those are sent to the FX with a long decay.  

    The third source is the entire call but just the first section used, also in a loop.  This is much sharper (no reverb), and gives it the varied color.  The envelope for it indicates a sharp attack and release.  The FX that all three sound sources get, then, include the Ensemble (random chorusing), a Flanger, and the Ring Modulator, controlled again by the aftertouch pressure on the key.    It’s that ring modulator that brings in the burping, bubbly sounds.

    The same drum sound returns from previous pieces, used only three times to give an articulation to the low Phase Plant sound each time it starts a new phrase down there in the “pedal” range.  But the wiggly, bubbly cough sound is new.  This is a Padshop frog snippet, but this time applied to its arpeggiator, then a simple delay is added.  Finally, the last high sound is the original frog call.  

I was reading an article about Arnold Lobel and his Toad and Frog books from The New Yorker by Colin Stokes when, strangely at the same time, my friend Mark sent me some sounds of frogs he had heard on a walk in his Iowa forest. I was delighted, of course, and immediately began developing some instruments from the sounds.   At the same time, I began reading the Lobel books, and delved more into his history.  Lobel was a children’s book author, married with two children.  He came out as gay to his family in 1974, and died of AIDS in 1987.  I noticed that one of the Frog books was dedicated to James Marshall, whose biography reads, “His obituary states that he died of a brain tumor; however, his sister has since clarified that he died of AIDS.”  (Wikipedia)

Here are these beloved books, including those by our wonderful Maurice Sendak, read lovingly to children in a time when homosexuals were regularly beaten and killed by the police and public, fired from jobs, banished from families, certainly not allowed to be around children, and dying of a disease that the Reagan government refused to acknowledge.  (My own life is tangled in these times, being fired from university teaching positions for being openly gay; and witnessing my gay colleagues carefully trying to maneuver their own careers and relationships in attempts to avoid harm.) 

The horror of those times is gently stated by Lobel in his story, Frog and Toad Together, written in 1972, two years before his family knew his full story:

“I am happy to know a brave person like you, Toad,” said Frog.  He jumped into the closet and shut the door.  

Toad stayed in the bed, and Frog stayed in the closet. 

They stayed there for a long time, just feeling very brave together.

I want the character of the whimsical titles and the poignant music to portray the complexity of experiencing the joy of love through the cloud of extraordinary danger. 

All the sounds you hear are from Mark's original recording, which you can hear on the album, "Original Recorded Sounds."

















Comments
Barbara G.

I have never read this.  I’ll do it and listen to the frog music a second time.

Jewel Dirks

He’s witty and caustic...!