Ringing rocks sound effects Asbjoern Andersen


The ringing rocks in Pennsylvania are a mysterious natural phenomenon, and no-one can explain exactly what causes these boulders to ring when you hit them. But they do ring for sure, producing chime-like tones – and now recordist Thomas Rex Beverly has created a new SFX library with these sounds. Here’s how he captured the sounds of these strange rocks:

Video Thumbnail

The trailer for the Ringing Rocks SFX library

My name is Thomas Rex Beverly and I am a field recordist based in Philadelphia. I love to travel the world searching for new sounds and experiences to explore. One of the places I was lucky to visit this past year was Ringing Rocks County Park in Pennsylvania. The park contains a field of ancient boulders that produce a uniquely resonant, chiming tone when struck.

A few years ago, my sister Emily, who now has a Ph.D. in geology, visited the park as part of a geology class field trip. She invited me to explore the park with her, but under one condition: I needed to bring my Zoom portable digital recorder along. As we walked around the field, I noticed little worn spots on the rocks where previous visitors had hit them. So, I took Emily’s rock hammer and hit one of these spots, not expecting much more than a dull thud. What I got was a pure chime-like tone that resonated with the rocks around it. I was captivated for hours – I went around to each boulder to find the rock’s sweet spot and made hundreds of recordings.

Ringing Rocks has the chiming, beautiful tones of an ancient boulder field

According to Emily, the rocks are a particular type of igneous rock called diabase, which formed as molten rock (magma) intruded between other sedimentary rocks and then cooled during the Early Jurassic epoch (~200 million years ago). This created a tabular body known as a sill, which was tilted slightly and exposed at the surface millions of years later. These unique boulder fields form because diabase is very resistant to erosion and on a slight slope. Repeated freezing and thawing during the ice ages that our planet has experienced over the past million years broke the diabase sill into large boulders through a process known as frost wedging. Water gets into cracks, freezes, and expands, and over time, this wedges the rock further and further apart and breaks it into boulders. The slope is very important though because too shallow of a slope and the boulders will be become part of the soil, rather than forming these ringing boulder fields.
Ringing rocks sound effects 4
The size, shape, and the boulder’s contact with the other rocks affect the type of sound generated, but something about the rocks is also unique. There are several theories about what causes the rocks to ring. One is that the iron content gives the rock its metallic resonance, but the diabase does not have a unique chemistry. If this were true, ringing rocks would be much more common. Many other theories exist, but none have been sufficiently tested to know for sure. The ringing rocks remain a mystery to geologists.

After my initial visit with Emily 4 years ago, I did a scouting trip to find the time of day with the lowest ambient noise levels and least airplane traffic. There was a lot of air traffic from New York City and Philadelphia but I was still able find many 5 – 10 minute gaps between planes where I could bang on the rocks to my heart’s content. I decided I wanted to go with a Mid-Side microphone setup and record on early winter mornings to avoid tourists, insects, and birds.

The ringing rocks remain a mystery to geologists

I recorded the library with a Sennheiser MKH 50 and 30 Mid-Side pair and a Sound Devices 702. I was thrilled to hear these rocks through these amazing microphones for the first time. I did my first recording session right after I purchased the Sennheiser microphones and was very pleased when these microphones sounded better than real life and captured the wild frequencies that are produced by striking these rocks.

I must have hit most of the thousands of rocks in the field trying to find the best ones. I ended up finding about 30 rocks that were particularly interesting. I proceeded to experiment by hitting each of those rocks in every way I could. I hit them on all sides with many different small hammers, crowbars, and sledgehammers. I found the rocks also make resonant sounds when you drag the head of the hammer or crowbar across its surface. This scraping brings out rich shimmering and sparkling harmonics and incredible textures of metal clattering on rock.

I was surprised at how the resonance and harmonics of certain rocks fluctuates with the amount of snow in the boulder field. On my second trip, there was more snow around the rocks so the pitch of certain boulders was significantly different.
Ringing rocks sound effects 3The whole rock field tends to have similar resonant frequencies. There is a lot of pitch variety in the recordings but there are definitely certain pitches (lots of D♭ and G♭) that resonate the same way in multiple rocks. Some rocks have a very bright quality, while others have a distinctly dark sound, and occasionally I would find a wild inharmonic clang unlike anything I’d heard before.

There was a wonderful little moment during one of my winter recording sessions. As I was recording some repetitive hits on a beautiful minor-toned rock, a distant woodpecker joined in from the nearby forest. I would bang away at the rock for a few seconds and then I would hear the woodpecker. He would start his tapping, I would pause until he stopped, and then I would start banging again. We kept this little rhythmic counterpoint going back and forth for about 15 minutes.

As hammers strike stone, the powerful clangs resonate like church bells and bring to life a natural sonic wonder

By far, my favorite sounds were created by scraping my hammers and crowbars against the stone. I already knew that the single strikes were stunning but once I started experimenting with other ways to play the rocks I was captivated by the richness and variety of the drones brought out by scraping.
Sometimes I wish I was born in an earlier time when there were still uncharted places to explore. One way we can still explore in our completely mapped world is to find and preserve stunning natural sounds. I believe the best sounds are the ones you can’t imagine and don’t yet know exist, like the ringing rocks in Pennsylvania. I encourage you to go exploring to find some new sounds too!

 

A big thanks to Thomas Rex Beverly for sharing his interesting story about the ringing rocks! Check out the full library below:

 

 
  • Rock / Stone Ringing Rocks Play Track 500+ sounds included, 27 mins total $79

    Ringing Rocks has the chiming, beautiful tones of an ancient boulder field. As hammers strike stone, the powerful clangs resonate like church bells and bring to life a natural sonic wonder. Plus, you receive many types of melodic tones, hammering rhythms, grinding metallic stone, resonant scrapes, and much more. If you need rocks unlike any you’ve heard before, listen to Ringing Rocks.

    2% for the Planet:
    Two percent of the price of this library is donated to an environmental cause. I view it as an “artist royalty” for the planet!

    Key Features:
    • Featured on Designing Sound: “Our Favorite Sounds of 2016
    • 237 files, 500+ natural chime and bell-like rock sounds
    • Captured in 192 kHz for exquisite detail and sound designing potential
    • Location: Near Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania
    • A small hammer, medium sledgehammer, and crowbar were used to create a variety of timbres
    • Audio files with single rock strikes alone
    • Audio files with many sequential, varying strikes
    • Resonant scraping of hammers on rock for tactile textures that are perfect source material for rich metallic drones
    How It’s Made
    Read the full story of these mysterious rocks on the – A Sound Effect Blog!
    Gear Used:
    Sennheiser MKH 50/30 MS pair
    Mid/Side recordings decoded to LR stereo
    Sound Devices 702
    Rycote AG MS Blimp
    Add to cart
 
 

Please share this:


 


 
 
THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:
 
 
  • Sci-Fi Beams Play Track 1139 sounds included $149 $99

    BEAMS is a comprehensive toolkit for beam sound design. Sounds are separated into activation oneshot, activation/deactivation mechanism, and active loop categories. Each category contains subcategories for small, medium, and large beams. You can design anything from the smallest spy-watch laser cutter to a planet destroying column of chaos. As a bonus, you’ll also get a diverse collection of burning ignition sounds as source for beam environmental destruction.

    34 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597442399
    Add to cart
  • Sci-Fi Polarity Play Track 975 sounds included $90 $67

    Polarity delivers more than 950 sounds of electricity, science and technology – captured in several locations around the world, from electricity museums to science labs. About 50% of the library is all about electricity, with various types of Jacob’s Ladders, Tesla Coils, Ruhmkorff lamp and all sorts of impactful bursts of energy.

    Then we go through welders, plasma spheres, 3D printers, starting to cover a more broad technology theme – like old phones, telegraphs, dynamo wheels, rotary dials, whirling watchers, alarm, lab centrifuges, something scientists call a roller and a rocker, servo sounds, neon lights, a wimshurst machine and sparklers.

    Many sounds in this section were captured from vintage equipment, from a 1928’s tram to old telephone switchboards, high voltage levers and control surfaces.

    All content was recorded at 192KHz with a Sanken CO100K, a couple of Sennheiser 8040 and a Neumann 81i, translating into final assets that have plenty of ultrasonic content, ready for the most extreme manipulation.

    Bonus: Two extra libraries included for free:
    This library also includes two additional releases from Mattia Cellotto - for free: Crunch Mode delivers 230 crunchy sounds made with a variety of vegetables, fresh bread, pizza crust and a selection of frozen goods. The Borax Experiment gets you 158 squishy, gory, slimy and gooey sounds.
    26 %
    OFF
    Add to cart
  • The Audio Hero Western collection features 200 professionally recorded sound effects, ready for use in your productions.  Included in this library are guns and pistols, horses, stagecoaches, steam trains, jail cell doors and much more!  These sounds are all hand-picked from the Hollywood Edge Burtis Bills' Sounds of the American West sound effects collection.

    Add to cart
 
Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Sci-Fi Beams Play Track 1139 sounds included $149 $99

    BEAMS is a comprehensive toolkit for beam sound design. Sounds are separated into activation oneshot, activation/deactivation mechanism, and active loop categories. Each category contains subcategories for small, medium, and large beams. You can design anything from the smallest spy-watch laser cutter to a planet destroying column of chaos. As a bonus, you’ll also get a diverse collection of burning ignition sounds as source for beam environmental destruction.

    34 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597442399
  • Metal Smash – What do you get when you go to the junkyard with the best Schoeps Microphones money can buy.

    Every effect is also recorded with a sub sonic microphone to add depth to the smashes. Great complicated crashes with extra metallic details.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597355999
  • The sounds presented in this pack were recorded during the shooting of a short film taking place by the ocean. We shot in different places, in the marina, on a boat, in an industrial harbor area, in a wharehouse of boat maintenance.

    Even if some sounds of the pack are not fully in the theme, I voluntarily left them because they were recorded at the same time and in order to serve the film.

    The most represented sounds in this pack are those recorded in the marina, the wind blowing in the masts of the boats, at the seaside, as well as a detailed recording of the zodiac boat.

    Sounds were recorded using Sound Devices 633, in 24bits 96Khz, Schoeps CCM 21 mic in ORTF, with an extra CCM 41 for the center (LCR), and using an extra contact mic to record the motor of the zodiac boat.

    All the sounds are raw (No EQ, No Compression, No Fx).

    This pack contains 40 sounds, 80 files, for the ambiences.

    It also contains 15 sounds, 39 files for the zodiac boat.

    All embedded with detailed metadata on Soundminer.

  • Welcome to “MOTION MODE”, an intense collection of sounds to induce movement and evoke excitement in your production.

    You will find whooshes, transitions, noises, granular textures, movements, stutters and hits with a powerful Sci-fi feel.

    Special attention was put in the dynamics of the sounds to ensure the creation of an energetic pack aimed to enhance atmospheres, add movement and enrich musical compositions.

    If you liked some of my previous libraries like “Dodge this” and “The Transition” you are gonna love this one.

    29 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597183199
  • Huge deep and textural organic whoosh by’s. These are un-altered but a total blast. Want more fun, just (again) compress and pitch to fit, and hell, maybe add a little distortion.

    A great collection of organic sliding whooshes. They sound great, have lots of movement and are almost always complicated movements not just simple whoosh by’s.

    20 %
    OFF
    Ends 1597183199
 
FOLLOW OR SUBSCRIBE FOR THE LATEST IN FANTASTIC SOUND:
 
                              
 
GET THE MUCH-LOVED A SOUND EFFECT NEWSLETTER:
 
The A Sound Effect newsletter gets you a wealth of exclusive stories and insights
+ free sounds with every issue:
 
Subscribe here for free SFX with every issue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.