How to make cricket chirps vocally
There are certain moments in life in which the abhorrent or comedic silence hanging in the air simply cannot stand alone. Examples include:
After a painfully unsuccessful joke:
So a baby seal walks into a club.... (awkward silence)
After an incredibly long rant or teaching session:
And that is why we needed to confirm the existence of Bose-Einstein Condensate. Any questions?... (awkward silence)
For these moments and more, this guide exists. It is the sole responsibility of you, the comedic genius, to supply the necessary sound of crickets chirping to complete the Kodak Moment-type experience.
Step One: Resign yourself
Accept that this, like any worthwhile skill, takes time to acquire. I have some training in vocal percussion and brass musical instruments, so I may be more used to doing odd things with my tongue and mouth than your average noder. In addition, this chirp will only be an approximation of a real chirp1.
Step Two-A -- The tongue whistle
Get a sound like a kettle boiling going by moving your tongue towards the roof of your mouth. Leave a moderately-sized space between tongue and roof. This should feel like saying the word thin while your tongue is appreciably farther back in your mouth. Ever get that annoying squeaky whistle in front of your s's while you talk? Do it on purpose! Try to make the sound extend a bit in length, and fiddle around with altering pitch from high to low and vice versa, in the same way that one would do while whistling (i.e., moving the lip opening).
Step Two-B -- Strigulation, or syllables
Locate your soft palate -- it's like the back of the roof of your mouth (soft palate explains more thoroughly). Then, once you know where this is, make a good ol' snoring sound. Feel the vibration? That's how you're going to get the separation of sound, the syllables of the chirp, if you will. Practice a little bit doing this while moving your tongue around and with an open mouth; you should hear an interesting variety of sounds.
Step Three: Actually chirping
Perform both parts of Step Two simultaneously, leaving the front of your mouth in a decent whistling position. This will take a bit of time to accomplish well, but what should happen is a rolling whistle, which is a fine basic approximation of a chirp.
Step Four: A Modicum of Realism
Well, if you're going to do this thing, do it right! Typically, the pitch of a cricket's strigulation goes slightly upward as the chirp progresses, which is why it pays to toy with that kettle-whistling sound. Chirps additionally do not last terribly long, only about half a second. If you're especially slick, practice adjust the speed of your soft palate's vibration for temperature... mwa ha ha2.
1This form of chirping will typically garner no success in actually attracting female crickets. The rate of strigulation in crickets optimal for phonotaxis tends to hover around 25-30 beats per second, a rate far beyond that of your typical tongue roll.
comments welcome, tips given freely
2You will typically only accomplish a very quiet chirp with this method -- if you plan on using this in a performance of some sort, a microphone may be necessary.