Skip links

Meditating on the Quaking Bridge in Oxford

quake1A sound from close to home to finish the week – this is Quaking Bridge in Oxford, which sounds like some kind of epic, Indiana Jones-style heroic challenge, but is actually just a cute little bridge joining three streets in the centre of the city.

Interestingly in the field recording, there’s a metallic high-pitched noise which in the remix sounds like it’s been added in as a high-end synth noise, but it’s actually an unusually synthetic-sounding part of the original found sound.

For the remix, I’ve tried to take the sound under the water, layering reverbs and delays to give a sub-aqua feel to the sound. But the most interesting part is layer I’ve created with the original recording using Gnaural, which is a tool designed to create sounds that facilitate meditation. It does this by utilising the concept of ‘binaural beats’:

“In 1839, German experimenter Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered that illusory “beats” are perceived when pure tones of slightly different frequency are separately and simultaneously presented to each ear. Dove’s insight was to realize that since there is no acoustic mixing of the tones, the perceived beats must exist solely within the auditory system, specifically that part which processes binaural (e.g., “stereo”) sound.”

Gnaural is an open-source generator for binaural beats, “implementing the principle described in the October 1973 Scientific American article “Auditory Beats in the Brain” by Gerald Oster. The theme of the article is that the processing of binaural beats involves different neural pathways than conventional hearing. Research inspired by the article went on to show that binaural beats can induce a “frequency-following response” (FFR) in brainwave activity.”

Using Gnaural, you can create immensely long, meditative passages of binaural beat soundwaves, and you can mix in your own sounds as a base for the generation, which is what you can hear increasing throughout the remix and purely on its own by the end. Give it a try over here.

City version:


Memory version: