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Jump

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A musical collaboration between composer Karen Wimhurst and entomologist Peter Smithers hon.FRES and Charlie Woodrow from the Bioacoustics Department, Lincoln University, featuring insect, amphibian and clarinet musics. 

In our rightful place, humanity is one small voice within an exuberance of wild song.  Yet today, as the chirping, clicking, buzzing thrum of insects is lost, the croaking and calling of frogs disappears, the brightness of bird song ebbs away, our children’s songlines are ripped apart. 

We are the perpetrators of a terrible silencing.  

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Trailer for Jump

“Insects make up the bulk of known species on earth and are integral to the functioning of terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, performing vital roles such as pollination, seed dispersal and nutrient cycling. They are also food for numerous larger animals, including birds, bats, fish, amphibians and lizards. If we don’t stop the decline of our insects there will be profound consequences for all life on earth.​’’ David Goulson

 

In lockdown, I lay on a riverbank suddenly throbbing with grasshoppers.  This was a brief window in our lives when we learnt that things can change fast. We understood we can all spring into action at a moment’s notice.  We can take a running leap to profound change.  We can JUMP.  

 There was a time when the joint was jumping, jumping with life. 

 

Let’s move into a world in which we all

leap, bound, hop, bounce, skip, bob, caper, trill, whirr, croak, buzz, chirp, squeak, chirrup and jump for joy

with the best of them. 

Many precious voices across the globe are vanishing fast.  Hold on to them for dear life.

The Cast

Bog Bush Cricket

This cricket is most abundant in southern areas of the UK. It is found in damp habitats in lowland areas

 

Mottled grasshopper

This is a common grasshopper across the UK that is found in habitats with short vegetation and bare ground.

 

Cicada (Neotibicen winnemanna)

Known as Dog Day cicadas. A North American species that lives in deciduous woodland. The nymphal cicadas spend the autumn and winter underground emerging as adults in the summer.

 

SE Asian field cricket   (Teleogryllus emma)

Known as Emma Koorogi. This cricket is common in fields and other areas with short vegetation across SE Asia. It is often collected for its song.

 

Midwife toad   (Alytes obstetricans)

An introduced species that has established at a small number of sites across the east of the UK

 

Common toad Bufo bufo

This species is wide spread in the UK and can be found in a broad range of habitats.

 

 Pool frog  (Pelophylax lessonae)

This species occurs in a small number sites in south eastern England. It prefers groups of small ponds in open woodland. The native populations had become extinct but a reintroduction program is underway.

 

Karen Wimhurst (Homo sapiens)

Often seen in summer in her native habitat, swimming in the River Stour Dorset or emerging with a clarinet in various locations in the UK and beyond. 

Background

The animals featured this piece produce sound in many different ways, the method of sound production is as diverse as the songs that they create.

Karen Wimhurst produces sound with a honed embouchure involving facial muscles, controlled air flow and ingenious use of hollow wooden tube and reed. 

 

Grasshoppers possess a row of tiny teeth like projections that form a file on their back legs. This is rubbed across a vein that runs through the centre of their first pair of wings.  This vein protrudes above the surface of the wing. When the file on the back leg is drawn across this vein it vibrates and these vibrations are transmitted to the rest of the wing which then acts like a small speaker generating pulses of sound.

Crickets have a different approach as they rub one of their front wings over the other.  A vein that runs across the base of the left wing possess a file of small teeth on its underside. While a similar vein on the right wing has a single larger tooth on its upper surface known as the plectrum.  As the left wing is passed over the right wing the file is dragged over the plectrum causing a series of vibrations.  Near the base of the right wing is a thinner area of the wing membrane known as the mirror. When the veins in the right wing vibrate, these vibrations are transferred to the mirror which amplifies and transmits the vibrations into the air as sound.

Cicadas possess a circular depression on the upper surface of their body close to the base of their wings, which is known as a tymbal. This is a circular domed membrane that has a series of raised ribs running across it. Internally a muscle is attached to the membrane that can pull it inwards.  When this happens each of the ribs buckle inwards in turn, generating a click. So each contraction of the muscle generates a series of clicks, one for each rib. When the muscle relaxes the membrane springs back generating another series of clicks. This process can occur between 100 and 300 times a second.  The number of ribs and the frequency of the contractions vary between cicada species and accounts for the wide variety of cicada songs.

Frogs and Toads possess vocal cords in their throats just like humans, but they also have a vocal sac under their chin or at the side of their mouth.  When they call, they close their nose and force the air from their lungs over the vocal cords into the vocal sac thus generating sound. As the vocal sac expands it acts as a resonating chamber amplifying the sound. The air can then be forced back into the lungs repeating the call and this cycle can be repeated many times.

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