Strange Sounds in Edmonton Sky part of viral phenomenon


The only mystery about the “Strange Sounds in the Sky” videos is which synthesizer was used to make the sounds – aside from how these videos managed to capture the fears and imaginations of people around the world.

“It’s definitely a synth,” says producer and recording engineer Phil Anderson, owner of Edmonton’s Powersound Studios, after about two seconds of hearing the soundtrack to a YouTube video allegedly made near Conklin, Alberta that went viral. By Jan. 25, less than two weeks after it was posted, it stands at an astounding 1.8 million views and counting – with more than 5,000 emotional comments attached. About half the comments sampled dismiss this paranormal sonic phenomenon as a hoax, some express fear that it’s real and still others are angry with the suggestion that it isn’t. Insults are flying. Weird no matter how you look at it:

Area musician Jamie Philp, who taught music technology at Grant MacEwan University for 20 years, isn’t sure what made the sounds. He says, “My goodness, that’s kind of unusual, isn’t it? I don’t recognize it as anything I can pinpoint. It seems like there’s some kind of samples, a human voice and some natural sounds mixed together, but obviously it’s just been tweaked, processed with some kind of filter modulation.”

Videos like this have been appearing on YouTube from around the world – including several made in Edmonton. Here’s one of the first that appeared:

The creator, local student Claudine Gladue, says it’s a hoax – a hoax made by using the soundtrack to the Conklin video, which may or may not be a hoax. It’s all so terribly confusing. She explains in a short email Q&A:

Q: How did you make the video?

A: “I made the video by taking out my iPhone and merely video recorded my balcony view while holding my laptop right behind it, while my laptop played the Conklin YouTube video in the background. Took less than a minute to do this.”

Q: Why did you make it?

A: “I made it because I was surprised at the attention the Conklin video was getting, and the friends on my Facebook friends list were voicing their fear, which I think is wrong. I easily found that the Conklin video and I believe the Ukraine video has the exact same audio on them (hello Tropical birds in Conklin), so I decided that I had to share my knowledge. I made the video to show my friends and family how easy it was (literally less than five minutes of my life to make the video and upload it) to make something like that, and how they shouldn’t believe everything they see online, and should especially not get fearful.”

Q: Are you surprised how many hits it got?

A: “Very. I did not intend for the video to be uploaded to YouTube, at all. Some stranger who saw my video on a mutual friend’s Facebook page copied it to his computer and uploaded. Since seeing it uploaded I was at war with myself, torn between making him take it down or not. I got sick of people debating whether it was real or not and messaged him saying to say the video was made to show how easy it was to make such videos. Of course my curiosity was very high as to how many hits the video would keep getting, which is why I let him keep it up. I am a bit shocked and saddened that this is getting so much attention, when there are so many other important things going on in the world and deserves people’s attention.”

Q: If this part of an agenda on your part to debunk myths?

A: “Partly. I’m not saying all the ‘strange noise’ videos are fake, but I knew that the Conklin one was, and I wanted my friends to be aware of that. Since then the makers of the video have come out to say it was fake, so I’ve heard anyway.”

Q: Do you have any thoughts about why people seem to have such strong emotions about it? Some get quite angry with even the suggestion it might be a hoax.

A: “This is something I am extremely interested in. I’ve had religious people arguing with me about the authenticity of the video I made, telling me how the angels are coming and how I should repent because I don’t “believe”. I have no explanation, other than fear.”

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The idea that these videos might fake be isn’t the story here. It’s the 1.8 million views the Conklin video got (and more than 83,000 for the Gladue’s video). Any indie band with a music video would be over the moon to get this kind of traffic. It’s the kind of number that can make you famous. But this was one guy with an iPhone shooting a couple of other guys in logging attire wandering around the woods allegedly listening in wonder at the Strange Sounds from the Sky – and it goes viral like Katy Perry.

Consider how a man might be ridiculed and dismissed in the modern age for claiming to be the Second Coming of Jesus Christ – even if He was. But get some alien-avenging-angel-universe-ripping action up on the Internet and it seems that so many people WANT to passionately believe, or passionately disbelieve, as the case may be. Welcome to faith by viral marketing. Just don’t be surprised if it turns out to be a publicity stunt for a new video game.