Everything Is a Remix: The Sound of Horses Racing on TV Is Actually a Sample of Buffaloes Charging

Another made-for-television sonic fiction.

You know when you're watching a horse race and you hear the thunder of the horses' hooves down the backstretch?

Well, it turns out no one actually recorded that sound with a microphone. It is, technically speaking, not real. As with the Olympics events I discussed yesterday, the sound of horse racing is a sonic fiction. As the former BBC producer, Bill Whiston, related it on a 99% Invisible podcast, here's the story:

When we do our horseracing, you're not going to get somebody running around the course after the horses. There is no way. And occasionally you'll come across very close up pictures of the horses of the far side, which is done off one of our roving cameras. But you have engine noise in that case, so therefore you wouldn't want a microphone on that, because all you would hear is a car revving up and a cameraman cursing.

So, basically, the way you cover all of that sort of stuff is to run a tape which has the sound of horses hooves galloping, which is actually, if I remember correctly, a slowed down buffalo charge. That's pretty much a standard thing, and I think it's probably the same recording that they've used for years.

I've now watched about a dozen horse races on YouTube and the sound of the horses' hooves on the far side is always roughly identical. Although, I should note that it is difficult to hear much environmental sound over the commentators hyperventilating.

As noted, this snippet comes from Roman Mars' 99% Invisible podcast, which may be the best thing for your ears since Radiolab. Incidentally, Mars is running a Kickstarter, which is worth backing.


Presented by

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis. The only problem? He has to prove it works.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Technology

Just In