52 Hertz
 

LONELIEST mixtape

Inspired by a rare and beautiful song emanating deep from the Pacific ocean.

The Loneliest Mix is an audio project by Mike Ambs

Sharing the beautiful and rare song of a hybrid blue whale, known by the name the Loneliest Whale, one mix-tape at a time.

Each Loneliest Mix comes with four things: 1) a unique numbered mixtape with a loop of the whale’s rare song, 2) a stamped poster of the project’s symbol - which is the waveform of whale’s song wrapped into a continuous loop, and 3) a typed thank you letter, 4) a brief description about the song and its origins. 

Listen to the Song of 52

This is the real-time version of the Lonely Whale's unique song.

 

Please note: 52 Hertz is near the lowest note on a tuba, meaning the song is very low and bass-heavy. You'll need a powerful set of speakers (subwoofers as especially helpful) or a high end pair of headphones.

 

Early Project Beginnings

Initially, the only available audio file from the 12 years of tracking its movements in the Pacific was the 15-second .wav file found on the NOAA website. I became obsessed with finding and listening to the original (real-time) version of 52 - but it was nowhere to be found on the NOAA site or in any of the supporting research materials. 

After several weeks of searching, I decided to use an audio program to slow down the 15-second NOAA audio file by 10x, to its original state. The result of which produced no sound at all on my iMac speakers, or so I thought -- 

When I crawled under the office table to plug in my subwoofer I heard the beautiful, strange, rumbling song of the only known blue whale to have wandered the open ocean alone for decades. Shortly after that moment, I recorded the song of 52 on a cassette tape, and I've been sharing it with strangers all over the world ever since. 

52 Blue vs Pacific Blue

Comparing the song of 52 Blue side-by-side with that of an average Blue Whale.

The Loneliest Whale in the 52 Hz range

A Western Pacific Blue Whale in the 10-20 Hz range

 
Imagine roaming the world’s largest ocean year after year alone, calling out with the regularity of a metronome, and hearing no response.
— New York Times, Andrew Revkin
 

The Story of Tape #52hz01

At the time, I was reluctant to assume that anyone else would find this hard-to-hear song as interesting and moving as I did; before committing to this project, I wanted to run a different kind of Kickstarter campaign, one that aimed to raise only $5, and had only 1 unique reward available.

Which brings me to Daniella Jaeger, who wrote: 

I watched his hypnotic video and scanned the sparse page. I then remembered that I had backed 99 projects thus far and had been waiting for something special to back for #100. I thought,I must have this mixtape. So one $5 pledge later… I got all excited and tweeted the milestone. Some blogging and cyberhugs followed. Four days later, the cassette was in my hands, with a nice note from Mike. “I HOPE THIS MIX MAKES YOU FEEL AS CALM AND FOCUSED AS IT DOES ME”. I don’t even own a cassette player, but this project, so simple in its execution and so easy to support, is a story I’ll never forget. 

It was that incredible response to mix #1 that really launched this project - since then I have personally recorded and mailed over 200 additional mix-tapes to people all over the world.