Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Sound of Summer

Among all the cicada (a.k.a. locust) recordings on the Soundcloud audio sharing site this one, recorded at Tokyo's Yotsuya train station, sounds closest to home (my favorite cicada sound track is here, live from Nikko). 

If there is a sound that defines summer in Temple Valley it is this symphony of cicadas. There is just no silencing their seasonal serenade. You can even hear them sing in the first few seconds of this YouTube clip from Ping Pongthe 2002 Japanese movie based on the comic book of the same name. Shot in and around Enoshima (not too far south of Tokyo) during the summer months, this chapter of the film is supposed to depict a Decembery scene. Yet no matter how many layers of winter wool the players wear or how well they act, they just can't fool mother nature. The lilting lullaby of the locusts comes through loud and clear. 

The  melodies these insects make by rubbing their wings together never got scrubbed out during editing. It is a minor flaw in an otherwise flawless film. The BBC has described it as the "best Ping Pong movie ever" but it's much more than that. Among other things it just might be the perfect pill to help anyone going through an Olympic withdrawal this summer. 

Here is the trailer for Ping Pong, the film the New York Times has called "stylistically stunning" and "completely nuts." Oh, and that's the other connection between this movie and the song of the cicadas. "Completely nuts" is exactly what the insect's constant call drives a lot of people here every summer. 



Different Japanese onomatopoeic expressions are used to mimic the cries of different locust, or cicada, species. Like:

"min-min" for Hyalessa maculaticollis;

"tsuku-tsuku hoshi" for Meimuna opalifera, whose cry is said to herald summer's end;

and more.

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