By: Yukon Damov

What does it mean if the Bible says that God spoke the world into existence (“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”) but Charles Bogert says, “It is probable that the first voice in existence was that of a frog.”?

Never mind: just working on my opening sentence.

Folkways Recordings was founded in 1948 in New York City by Moses Asch and Marian Distler. They endeavoured to record and document the entire world of sound.

In 1988, the Smithsonian bought Folkways, and in 1998 Smithsonian Folkways released a CD: “Sounds of North American Frogs: The biological significance of frogs.” The back includes Bogert’s quote and a paragraph with a strange magnetic pull. It goes as follows:

“The amphibian song revival begins here! This classic of both biological fieldwork and natural recordings, originally released by Folkways in 1958, presents 57 species of frogs and toads on 92 tracks, digitally remastered from the original master tapes. Compiled and narrated by renowned herpetologist Charles M. Bogert, these sounds were recorded in swamps, lakes, woods, creeks, and roadside ditches all over North America. Sit back and let the bewitching tones of the Pig Frog, Dwarf Mexican Treefrog, Little Green Toad, Southwestern Woodhouse’s Toad, Great Basin Spadefoot, and other famed vocalists entrance and amaze you. In a time when frog and toad populations are in rapid decline, this recording reminds us of the remarkable diversity and beautiful music we are in danger of losing.”

I mean, come on! So whack I had to listen.

92 tracks. 55 minutes.

It was hypnotic, like something just on the edge of my world, that I could move around in — it was ambient.

This article was originally published on our old website at