Sounds from the cave

What sounds did our prehistoric ancestors hear? We visited the cave of Arcy-sur-Cure in Burgundy. I brought a head torch.  David’s ipad should have been ideal for script reference but it keep switching to screen save during critical sentences.  Our guide, Iegor Reznikoff is an expert on cave acoustics and was nimble as a goat in the subterranean world where he seems so much at home.  He let out strange whoops and screeches in order to navigate by ear.   He would sometimes make frightening animal noises into hollows and they would resonate throughout the cave. I used to think all caves sounded the same with a reverb time of about 7 seconds but they vary greatly as you move from tunnels into the different caverns.  The most incredible image for me was a handprint made by someone about 40,000 years ago.

After about 2 hours in the cave it got chilly and we headed out into the mild French autumnal day and civilisation in the form of a distant French rural skyline (indistinct background sounds) and obligatory snogging touristic couple (unrecorded).

Here is our recording of Iegor’s informal cave concert:



One thought on “Sounds from the cave

  1. My favourite cave sound experience was in France doing an all night ceremony in a cave system. There were quite a few of us all doing our own ceremony. At some point in the night I heard a humpback whale calling. Even for a shamanic ceremony, this seemed quite strange. Eventually I realised it was a fellow ceremonialist who had fallen asleep. Her snores were converted by the cave’s acoustics into high trembling notes and deep groans. Carol Youngson
    ps have you played the exfoliated boulders on the kopjes in Botswana?

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