The Hummadruz

Welcome to Hummadruz. This is a place in which you will walk the less-travelled paths of the world of sound. Here we will explore, with a skeptical eye (and ear), subjects as diverse as audio & hifi myths, strange atmospheric sounds, historical aural oddities, technical audio hocus pocus and, of course, things that go bump in the night. In my fairly lengthy career in the professional audio business, I have encountered a truckload of bizarre sound stuff and I will dip into the archives to bring the best of it out for you here, but I hope, also, that you will tell me your own stories, and send me anything that you think might have its rightful place among this collection.

If you’re wondering about the title of this blog, some explanation is probably in order. The ‘hummadruz’ is, perhaps, the typification of the the uncanny & the puzzling when it comes to the field of sound. Simply put, it is a generic term for a peculiar phenomenon, reports of which span a few centuries at least; it is a strange, diffuse sound that appears from nowhere, is sometimes heard by numerous witnesses, and then disappears without explanation. The hummadruz can take many forms – a low frequency hum, a pulse, a vibration, a whine, a screech, a sound like buzzing bees. It can be a soft barely felt presence in the breeze – persistent, but elusive – or a loud, sometimes deafening throbbing in the night. Though you may not have heard them, stories of the hummadruz abound, from forest to urban streets.

Here is a fairly typical first person account:

One hot and sunny afternoon, after a bit of rain in the previous days, we had to clear a mass of holly trees from a trackway, and some of us also set about clearing wood, leaves and silt from a well-trough situated at a bend on the track on the wooded hillside. While this was going on, I became aware of a buzzing sound, which I first thought to be the hum of woodland flies. Steadily, however, the noise became more intense; I looked around to try and locate the swarm of bees, as I had by then assumed it to be, but could find no centre or direction to the sound. The other two people working on the well were also aware of the sound, but did not find it as loud or bothersome as I did; for me, the sound at its most intense seemed not only to be all around, but inside my head as well. In the end, I went off outside the woodland to trim some holly instead; the sound was still there when we clocked off, but not on subsequent days.

The marked text is mine, and I want you to remember that phrase, for as we shall see, the field of audio has a lot to do with things happening ‘inside your head’. I don’t mean to suggest by that statement that the hummadruz isn’t a real thing (or things) – it may well be – but when it comes to the field of unusual sound phenomena, it’s sometimes very tricky to unravel the real from the illusory.

I’ll leave a proper examination of the hummadruz itself for a future post, but for now, thanks for dropping by, and tune in frequently.

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