Recordings of Spiderwebs

I have made a few recordings of spiderwebs, using my laser microphones. I inject energy into the web with a can of compressed air. Click through for pictures and audio!

The initial idea for the setup was to use a triangulation-based approach, which is explained in detail in this entry. However, in this situation, the amount of reflected light was not sufficient to measure with this method.

The web exhibits an irregular "comb" structure, as opposed to the orb-web structure. Spiders that build such irregular webs include koch spiders (Achaearanea tepidariorum) and black widows (Latrodectus hesperus). Let's hope it's the former and not the latter!

Perhaps this is a good place to mention that I am extremely arachnophobic. The best recordings resulted from measuring variations in the transmitted light, rather than the reflected light. This setup is commonly used in the literature.

To produce the recording, I used a can of compressed air to "bow" the spiderweb. Since this is an irregular web, many of the modes of vibration are heavily damped, and the result sounds like a filtered version of the forcing function. No processing of any kind (except trimming and a fade-in) were used.

Finding a resonance in the web may take a little more practice with the compressed air can. Orb-webs might also exhibit less damping.


Later I actually got the web to resonate at a frequency! It took a lot less air than I had been using. It's not easy, but it sounds pretty amazing.

This recording has two overdubs of the air-bowed web. No other processing has been added.

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