Saturday, December 18, 2004

What is EVP?

EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomenon is when you record mysterious voices from people not present at the time, yet appear when played back later. EVP recordings are usually made on regular digital voice or tape recorders and can range from very faint fluctuations in backgroud noise to clearly defined words and sentences. The amazing thing is, these voices can answer questions and might even make fun of you!

The EVP phenomenon began as modern electronic recording devices became popular. People around the world reported hearing strange, ghostly voices in the background of their tape recordings. Easily dismissed as interference or imagination by most, a small but dedicated band of researchers have been investigating for over 20 years with some fascinating findings.

Using simple tape recorders or IC voice memo recorders, EVP researchers have made startling recordings of ghost voices that respond to their questions, tease them or give advice. Some have even captured conversations between unseen entities who seemed unaware they were being taped.

Imagine taping yourself asking for the names of who is here in a deserted Gettysburg cemetery and hearing five different voices sound off with "That'll be Tim, George Pickett, Elizabeth, Bobby Olson, Un- Huh, ...B. Olson." when you play the tape back!
listen to "Spanglers Names" for yourself

How does it work? Truth is, no one knows. Some think these are communications with spirits while others believe we simply capture residual psychic energy and record events that have occurred in the past. Another theory is that a persons consciousness can hang around for years after death and EVPs are recording those energies.

Of course there are those who say it's all imagination or subtle suggestion. While detailed research is ongoing, there simply is not enough data to make an educated guess or provide any firm scientific proof at this point.

The upcoming hollywood movie "White Noise" is anticipated to bring broader awareness and increased experimentation in EVP during the next few months. The EVP community anticipates a massive influx of samples and experimentation as more and more people try their hand at contacting the dead with this easy to use technique.

But beware! This is not for the faint of heart, those with mental illness or the easily creeped out. You may actually hear some very disturbing things that may change the way you view reality and the after life.

Be warned, be skeptical and most importantly remain open minded. This could be an earth shattering discovery that will forever change humanity and finally prove life after death; or it might just be a fun parlor trick.

Let's find out, shall we?

Friday, December 17, 2004

EVP Voice Examples Starring Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra?

I do have to admit Tom and Lisa Butler of Lake Tahoe have captured some very interesting EVP recordings and amazingly enough they might just be of famous dead movie stars!
EVP Voice Examples featuring movie stars?

It seems they were out investigating a haunting in a cabin used by Marilyn Monroe at the Cal-Neva Resort once owned by Frank Sinatra. They called to Marilyn to speak with them and recorded a voice that clearly sounds like "Wanna see a movie?" Wow, this recording is clear and easy to make out!

At the same resort they were given a tour of Sinatra's old dressing room in the theatre which the employees felt was definitely haunted. When they asked to see inside the lighting and sound booth, the door of which reportedly would often slam shut unexpectedly startling everyone working on stage, the employee declined saying that she "would never go up there". At that Lisa kindly thanked their guide and left.

When they got home a polite voice could be heard in the background at that exact moment saying "please don't come". This EVP is not as clear as the previous one and the voice might be interpreted as "You're welcome" if you listen to it right.

But the creepiest EVP recording they have is definitely the one from Alcatraz. While investigating the cell blocks of the infamous Rock, they may have captured one of it's resident tortured souls. When Lisa advises any spirits present that they "can speak on this device", an eerie reply is heard to say "That's right, we know". Very scary recording. Gave me the instant chills.

It would seem these lakeside researchers have not only captured some amazing EVP samples, but have also managed to record in some rather interesting places.

I hope they will tell Marilyn I'd love to go to the movies with her. Perhaps we can even find an old Sinatra reel playing somewhere!

EVP Books by Tom and Lisa Butler

Listening to EVP Recordings

Before listening to EVP recordings it seems there are some things you should know.

First, it takes some practice to train yourself to hear the voices. It seems the ghost voices are created from the static noise picked up by the recorder. White noise, running water and radios tuned off station are commonly used as "sound energy" sources during EVP experimentation. You have to learn to listen through this noise to be able to hear the recorded voices.

I have to admit this makes me instantly skeptical. How can you tell me there is a voice if I have to train myself to hear it? I remember the days of back-masked records and the subliminal message fears. I never did hear the devil in a Beatles album played backwards or instantly crave popcorn or an A&W root beer at the drive in.

I have some extensive experience with sound working as a stage lighting designer and sometime sound designer/audio engineer for almost 20 years now. I've done audio work for theatre, bands and special events from boxcars in a field to the Georgia Super Dome so I have a college level understanding of the basic physics of sound. As a writer and a public speaker, I am more than familiar with the concepts of phonics, proper pronunciation and the psychology of language.

I could see how the mind could try and make sense of random or white noise and create 'words' out of it. You see people misunderstand speech all the time; from arguments over Rock and Roll song lyrics to radically different legal testimony. Sometimes people will hear what they want to hear.

But I still remain open minded and fortunately Sara Estep, founder of the AA-EVP has developed a system for grading EVP recordings. Samples seem to vary drastically in quality and there are three basic levels.
  1. A Class A EVP is a message that can be heard without headphones and that people can generally agree on its content.
  2. A Class B EVP requires a headphone to distinguish message content and not everyone will agree on the message.
  3. A Class C EVP requires headphones, often needs amplification and filtering and will seldom even be heard by others.

I think it might be a good idea for a novice like me to start with the Class A's and work my way down. I want to hear some clear voices not lose interest or become frustrated straining over unintelligible audio that only someone else can hear a voice in. I'm looking for amazing proof of life after death after all!

Another thing one must know when listening to an EVP recording is that the voices may sound distant, strange or seem to be singing. Sometimes they will have an unusual cadence or consonants and vowels will be compressed or elongated in an unusual way. The theory is that the "entities" can only use available audio energy to form the sounds of words in a recording device and are unable to create sounds on their own. Sometimes the needed sounds just are not there and they must make due.

This would explain some anomalies or why the voices may sound similar to the speaker in the tape. It seems logical that one cannot form a vowel or consonant one does not have a "template" for when communicating like this. It would be a lot like trying to write a letter to someone in English without the letters L, R, N, T and A!

I would think it would also be particularly difficult to exactly mimic one's earthy voice when deprived of those all important word forming flesh and bone organs. Without the lungs, vocal cords, tongue and lips how could you sound like yourself?

The last and final thing one must know before listening to your first EVP recordings is that volume is always an issue. These ghost voices never come through at the same level as a person speaking and often times can barely be heard. It's not uncommon for parts of a message to be recorded under live speech on the tape, making it even harder to make out.

So, get out your headphones and let's listen carefully, realize the voices might sound a little strange or be hard to hear and finally listen to some real live EVP recordings!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena - AA-EVP, The American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena is the first site that I find in my search for EVP knowledge. Seems like a good place to start.

They describe themselves as:

The American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (AA-EVP) is a nonprofit educational association that is dedicated to the support of people who are interested in or who are studying Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) and Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC). This web site offers examples, techniques and concepts concerning Electronic Voice Phenomena and Instrumental TransCommunication.
Bingo! Just the type of site I was looking for. Although some of it is member's only, there is a plethora of information for the public as well. These seem like level headed people using care in their research of a paranormal phenomenon. This is no alien abductee site or a bunch of hoaxters out for publicity.

They struck me more as a group of serious scientists trying to explore a newly discovered phenomenon without any religious or cultural preconceptions. Some of their basic precepts are stated on the about us page:

Members understand that this "objective evidence" must be based on good science. As such, you will see that great care is taken by the members
to maintain an objective view of the phenomena. Yes, the evidence does
strongly indicate that the messages are nonphysical in origin; however,
members recognize that there are other possible explanations.

So they seem open minded and without some hidden agenda or epidemic mental illness. They go on to describe themselves as a well rounded group of people with three main hypothesis:

  1. Most members have come to believe they are communicating with people who have transitioned out of physical life.
  2. Some believe that there is a good possibility that the voices they record are little more than residual energy from the past imprinted into the fabric of the physical world. Or else we somehow trancend the limits of time and space and may actually travel back in time to some extent when recording voices or seeing apparitions.
  3. A few think the idea that the messages are nonphysical in origin is all nonsense, and are trying to prove this by determining their physical source.

And, as I suspected from the tone of the site, they claim many of their members (and it seems quite a few EVP researchers in general) are skilled scientists conducting serious experiments and not a bunch of wackos with no experience:

It is interesting that several AA-EVP members are research scientists. You will
not see their titles on our member lists, though. Just as you may be feeling
considerable doubt about this phenomena, and therefore our sanity, so too do
many institutions feel that a true scientists would not associate with
organizations like AA-EVP.

As usual with anyone interested in the paranormal no one wants to talk in public for fear that people will think them crazy. It's understandable. I don't think I've mentioned my real name yet either. Thank God for Internet nicknames, eh?

Well, it seems I've found a great place to start my exploration of EVP. I'm curious to hear what an actual EVP recording done in a somewhat scientific setting might sound like. I can't imagine them being as clear as the ones for the White Noise movie.

I'm anxious to be creeped out and amazed by some actual samples; aren't you?

The White Noise Movie Site

The official White Noise movie website (see it here) is typical of the modern pre-release hollywood site. Lots of Flash and cool fancy graphics on the splash page with a list of needed plugins. But bandwidth issues will not deter me and I'm sure I have the latest players so I bravely venture on.

As I watch the countdown while the Flash player loads, I wonder again if this is another Blair Witch Project. I spent a night on their website the first time I saw the TV ad too and at first glance their "found footage" seemed pretty real. Their website had lot's of "evidence", a great story and a few experts to boot. For the first week I, like everyone else, thought this looked real until the story broke it was purely well crafted fiction and a clever marketing department.

At first glance though, you realize White Noise will be different. This is obviously a movie where paranormal activity is simply used in the plot to help give everyone a good scare. There will be no "actual footage" here and with Michael Keaton as the lead, it would be hard to pass this off as any type of "reality movie".

Michael Keaton plays architect Jonathan Rivers who is devastated by the disappearance and death of his wife, Anna (Chandra West). Jonathan is contacted by a man (Ian McNeice), who says he is receiving messages from Anna through EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), the process through which the dead communicate with the living through household recording devices. At first skeptical, as any lawyer would be, Jonathan is soon convinced the messages are genuine and becomes obsessed with contacting his wife on his own. As he explores further into the world of EVP, he of course opens the door to some other dimension where something evil is lurking to scare us all to death. Standard horror movie fare.

I'm no expert, but I have always been interested in the paranormal and was surprised I had never heard of EVP before. Ok, I figure, a few ghost hunters said they recorded some things and some aspiring script writer took the idea and ran with it. The three samples on the White Noise movie site were very clear and must have been manufactured by a special effects team. There is no way any real recordings of the dead, if even possible, could be that clear.

I would soon learn otherwise as I continue my journey into the paranormal possibilities of regular old white noise.

The White Noise Movie Trailer

Don't waste your bandwidth visiting all the EVP websites you find on the search engines. Most of the recordings are inaudible and you will spend hours finding the best paranormal researcher websites. Many of the sites out there have little to do with EVP and only offer the same old samples over and over again.
But I can help. Join me every day as I scour the Internet to bring you the best EVP recording samples, researcher case files and paranormal resource websites out there.

My journey begins, as it will for millions of others in the next few weeks, when I see a movie trailer for the upcoming Universal release WHITE NOISE. I was not really paying attention to what my friends were watching until a spooky voice called out from the TV "I love you". The voice sounded so weird that I had to turn and see what was going on.

Chills ran up my spine as more creepy voices followed with "Get out of my house" and "you will suffer". They definately had my attention. Good trailer for a movie that was sounding pretty scary so far.

See the official white noise movie trailer or watch it and see production pictures at the White Noise movie page at Yahoo

The voice over announces that "the real life phenomenon is the most disturbing movie of the year" and I had to learn more. I love scary movies and this one was sounding really good. Everyone in the room was creeped out just from a 30 second TV spot! I jumped online and went straight to their official site to learn more.

As I watched the full theatrical trailer, I became more and more enthralled. I had heard of recording ghosts before, but these recordings were amazing. I figured this was another Blair Witch Project and Hollywood was once again fabricating media loosely based on a real life phenomenon to pitch a scary movie.

What I found on their site was much more than simple theatrics. It sparked something in me and I have to learn about this amazing phenomenon. The more I learn the more facinated I become. This really could be proof of life after death, time travel or alternate dimensions. I intend to find out if it is all true and do what I can to figure out what the answer might be as to how it all works.

I invite you along. I guarantee I'll find the best EVP on the internet and bring it to you each and every day right here along with my own commentary and experiences as I explore this strange new world of the Electronic Voice Phenomenon. I'll scare the hell out of you and have you rolling on the floor laughing, guaranteed or your money back.

Most of the EVP recordings on the Internet are barely audible and many EVP websites you find with the search engines are not worth the time to visit or have nothing to do with EVP at all.

Don't waste your valuable bandwidth searching through the thousands of EVP examples out there. Let me do the work and just check in when you find the time and I'll show you exactly where to hear the best EVP and learn from the people who really know how to do it.

I look forward to your company on this wild and wonderful journey and please be sure to leave your own comments for me and the world to ponder as you read each post! (email not required!)