I think this assignment’s goal was to help me realize that sounds have meaning and purpose, and even things that might just be considered background noise have their own unique stories and relevance to the world around us. Capturing sound can seem scary and vast – like an unattainable goal because of the intricate and complex ways sounds interact with each other. However, I can understand now that observing a sound or sounds means just as much as analyzing a painting or a short story. You can never truly escape sound – something is always around you to listen to, even if you don’t realize it. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to interpret these sounds and what they mean and represent. The specific sound something makes can actually describe it, allowing someone to make more sense of the audial world, which is essentially the world in general.


5 responses »

  1. 2/18/12 6:20-6:25 am Dunkin’ Donuts, Southbridge Ma

    Variation 1 – listen to the process of making someone’s coffee

    There is a lot of bubbling. popping, a fulfilling and satisfying sound as less and less room becomes available in the cup. Sloshing, Wave-like.

    Variation 2 – isolate the specific sound of the first drops hitting the cup

    A rumble, loud at first and then it gets softer and softer. Vibrating, trickling – a perfect harmony between the cup and the coffee. The coffee was black – dense and impenetrable, and so was the sound.

    I felt like since I was going to be spending most of my time during break at work, I figured I should take some time and really listen to what happens around me. So much can be explained just by listening to the sounds that they make, and I didn’t realize this. There is a sort of rhythm and harmony in making a coffee, and the sounds reflect that. Cream in a cup gives it a full, rich, actually creamy sound, and a black coffee seems so empty and dull until you take a sip and realize it’s strong and vibrant. As the cup went from empty to gradually full, I could sense its “blackness,” – trickling and sparse at first, and then full and almost overwhelming.

  2. 2/21/12 7:10 pm – my living room

    Variation 1 – sitting on the couch listening to my brother walk up the stairs (facing away from the stairs)

    a herd – pounding. quick – loud and close and then softer and far away. The creaking of wood. Though the sound is loud, it is empty. The pounding doesn’t sound full – it’s like there is air in the middle of it. A vibrating of Nike meets wood. Overlapping and busy. Hard.

    Variation 2 – focus on the mixture of feet hitting the stairs and a hand gliding up the banister

    a pattern – a certain swiftness, a casual graceful slide of a hand on the banister, the pounding of the feet and the slide of the hand compete with each other. the pounding wins, but the slide is consistent – never falters. The pattern of air/thud/air/thud/air/thud with the constant “shh” of the slide always behind it.

    The competition between the sliding and the pounding created some sort of weird imperfect harmony. There was always an air/thud/air/thud pattern, but the amount of time between the air and the thud wasn’t always consistent. Some steps were taken quickly, while others – towards the end of the climb – were slower and more deliberate, and they actually sounded heavier. Another variation that could be done with the stairs is having a group of people walk up with my brother and then try to isolate and pinpoint which sounds were specifically made by him based on the familiarity I have with his method.

  3. 2/25/12 11:00 am Dunkin’s

    Variation – the opening and closing of the Drive Thru window

    A human-like sound of agony. Less like a machine and more like a scream. The click of the initial opening and then the groan and strain as the window is pushed open manually, and then a final click as the window is pushed to its absolute limits and stops. This repeats when closed, but it’s lower and faster. It’s less difficult to close the window – it sounds like an exhale. Breathing, but strained. The inhale of the window is a gurgle, the exhale is a smoother release.

    This was a complicated sound to isolate, because, although it was loud, there were so many other things going on – specifically talking – that it was difficult to focus primarily on the window. This specific session really opened my eyes to the rhythm of the world around me, and helped to essentially personify sounds in order to make them more manageable and understandable. My capturing the human aspects of the window, I was able to relate it to something I’m very familiar with – breathing, and this made the process of keeping a sound journal more useful and relevant.

  4. 2/28/12 (Sorry about the lateness on this last one) 12:16-20pm my dorm room

    Variation 1 – listen to the vehicles driving by my open window

    air duct, wind tunnel, a rushing, a sense of speed and urgency. silence mixes with a faint sound in the distance and then rushes together as they get closer, the rushing noise takes over, sounding like a low grumble, until the silence slowly starts to creep back in again as it moves away. this repeats. consistent and smooth.

    Variation 2 – listen for the dirt and pebbles being picked up by the cars

    softer, crinkly. gravelly. sounds like a trickling. reminds me of raspy, rough, rattling breathing. air interrupted by the cough and obstruction of pieces of earth.

    This last variation was the most difficult to listen for because the original center sounds (the cars) constantly tried to overpower the fringe sound (the gravel). However, once I really concentrated and shifted my focus to the fringe, I could actually hear the gravel and pebbles louder in my brain than the cars and trucks. They felt so much further away. This last exercise really demonstrated how powerful sounds can be when we just shift our focus a bit and concentrate on the things we normally wouldn’t pay attention to.

  5. 3/29/12 2:34 – my kitchen

    variation 1 – listen to the dishwasher run its cycle for 5 minutes

    bubbly, sudsy, filling – a full noise that seems to have no room for air or lightness. I imagine that if I was physically IN the sound, there would be no way for me to breathe.

    loud, overpowering

    At first, it sounded just like a rushing, with no rhythm, but as I tune everything else out, I can sense the pulsing of the machine. 1,2,1,2,1,2

    variation 2 – listen to this rhythm

    the 1,2,1,2 rhythm battles with the trickling also going on. there is always a distinct humming, or buzzing in the background. these three sounds mix and blend within each other mimicking the mixing of water, soap, and suds inside the machine.

    In this sound session specifically, I found it a lot easier to “describe” rather than “explain,” sounds in the phenomenological ways Ihde uses. I can say that my auditory experiences this time around allowed me to discover things about the sounds that I ordinarily wouldn’t notice, such as the rhythm in the dishwasher. I found myself consciously “controlling” the sounds I heard and actually HOW I heard them, which is something I had not really considered before, which opens up a whole new door to understanding how we perceive sound in our own individual lives, and therefore, what sounds and auditory experiences mean to each person.

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