The desert spirits can do amazing and incredible things. Even in the daytime their voices can sometimes be heard, or there is a clash of arms, a roll of drums or the sound of different musical instruments. For these reasons, travelers go in large numbers and stay close to one another.
—Marco Polo (1295)
The 5th ‘Unarcheology Radio’ mix presents field recordings of four different elements: singing dunes from Oman and Morocco desert, wind, swarms of mosquitos and various western orchestras tuning up.
Some sand dunes in deserts have the ability to emit a loud persistent sound with a characteristic audible low-frequency (75-105 Hz), that sometimes can be heard up to 10 km away. Scientific investigations suggest that the sustained low-frequency sound of sand dunes that resembles a pure note from a musical instrument, is due to the synchronized motion of dry sand grains when they spontaneously avalanche under gravity.
The sonic booms have been reported in many parts of the world, from Mongolia to Atacama Desert in Chile. A recent scientific research could recreate their characteristic noise artificially in a laboratory, and confirmed that the pitch of the sound depends on the thickness of the sand grains. According to National Center for Scientific Research of Paris, each Desert has its own sound, for example Sand Mountain Dunes di in Nevada sing in C major, Chilean dunes sing in F major, while Morocco dunes sing in G minor.
Picture: Sand dunes Carson Desert Nevada / T.H. O’Sullivan