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Yorin

Can you identify this sound?

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Yorin

Hi,

 

I've been watching the movie Beijing Bicycle today, and I've noticed that several times throughout the movie, a strange, eerie sound can be heard in the background for 15 to 30 seconds, e.g. around the 31 minute mark. You'll find a recording of the sound attached to this posting.

 

I'm convinced I've heard this sound in another Chinese movie before, possibly in Breaking the Silence, which as far as I remember is also supposed to take place in Beijing.

 

I'm really wondering what the source of that sound might be. I've been to Beijing for a week a few years ago and I didn't hear it. Though it's possible this sound is specific to Beijing in the 1990s or to a certain place in Beijing or something like that.

 

Can any of you identify it?

strange_sound.mp3

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Shelley

It almost sounds like tram tracks screeching. Or a way out idea, Tibetan singing bowls.

 

It is weird though, maybe its aliens landing :)

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Basil

It's the sound of pet pigeons flying around.

 

They have little bamboo tubes tied to their tails, you can probably still here it in a few places in Beijing.

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MPhillips

My dad kept them in NYC in the 1940's. When I lived in Beijing in the 80's it was against the law to keep cats or dogs, don't know what the pigeon policy was however.

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Basil

I'd never seen pictures of them before. Had no idea they were so elaborate...

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roddy

Does anyone hear pigeon whistles regularly, in Beijing or elsewhere? I'd love to know. 

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imron

Hah, I didn't even realise it was whistles. I just thought it was some sort of pigeon warbling thing they did in flocks.

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Yorin

Thanks for the answers, this is seriously cool, I could never have guessed it!

I knew nothing yesterday, but today I feel that my life is complete.   :P

 

The great thing about being interested in China is that you can have a moment like this every day:

http://xkcd.com/1053/

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imron

I'm a little disappointed that the relevant xkcd didn't include bamboo pigeon flutes.

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Shelley

Excellent stuff, as usual Chinese people do these things so well, beautiful whistles, time and care put it to making them.

 

Thanks for the clip of them flying in the cage, shame about the dog barking.

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imron
I've been watching the movie Beijing Bicycle today

Beijing Bicycle is a terrible movie and a great movie at the same time.  Terrible because it's such a bitter, bitter story.  Great because its not often for a movie to be so memorable that it provokes such a strong emotional response so many years after seeing it.

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Travis_

Wow. You learn something new everyday. I have worked as a sound editor for film and my best guess was tram tracks too. Very interesting

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