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Last on

Thu 19 Jul 2012 21:45 BBC Radio 4

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 14 July 2012

In Japan, there is a long tradition of listening to the sounds produced by crickets which stretches back to the 18th century, and in China, this culture began in the Tang Dynasty. Crickets were traditionally kept in small cages made of bamboo hung from a ceiling or a tree or carried around in the pocket.The tradition still continues today, although the finely crafted bamboo cages are generally replaced with clear plastic terrariums with ventilated lids.

The name 'cricket' comes from the French, 'criquer', which means 'little creaker'. The most famous 'little creaker' is the Japanese Suzumushi bell cricket which, as its name suggests, produces bell-like sounds. In Tokyo, huge numbers of these bell crickets are raised in Bell Cricket Temple. People visit the temple to meditate whilst listening to the sounds of the crickets, which are believed to signify the voice of the Buddha.

Crickets produce sounds by rubbing together structures on their wings in a process called stridulation. Generally it's only the male crickets which sing or stridulate, to attract a mate, and different species produce different songs. To help radiate his song, the Mole Cricket sings from a burrow in the soil, with an entrance shaped like a horn to amplify the sound.

Cricket Cabaret is a celebration of the songs of crickets; a creative sound-rich composition using field recordings of crickets, as well as electronically treated recordings (by sound recordist Chris Watson), music and human voices to create a musical homage to an ancient tradition; a celebration of the sounds of crickets.

Sound recordist; Chris Watson. Contributors; Henry Bennet- Clark, Fernando Montealegre, Bob Pemberton, Sophie Anton and Paul Evans. Producer: Sarah Blunt.


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