Soundscapes

Madainn mhath! (madən va)… Good morning, in Gaelic. It is a gorgeous one and soon I will bring Mathias outside to sit on the porch and read for a while.

ps - 0727As he and I enjoyed our afternoon stroll, yesterday, I noticed a single bird sitting atop a barn roof. My initial thought was that this would make a great photograph, but while I enjoy such spontaneous captured moments, for some reason I enjoy the moment itself more and do not feel the urge to capture it.

Next, I thought it seems intriguing that we go around snapping photos of moments with our camera phones, but who ever snaps recordings of surrounding sounds?

You never see two people sitting at a table for coffee sharing their captured soundscapes with an expression of awe on their faces. We share photos online, but other than deliberately arranged musical pieces, we do not pay much attention to sound, unless it is clearly musical and accepted as pleasant.

As these thoughts filtered through my mind, while I stood in the middle of a field with the dog surrounded by the buzzing sounds of flying insects and the continuous melody of a nearby river, I wondered how come we do not even stop to capture these sounds, as if the impressions nature makes on our ears were not as mesmerizing as the impressions it makes on our eyes.

Meanwhile, on the road just outside the village, the clanging and banging sound of construction reverberated through the air, as it has every day for many months now. A large crew has set up camp there to build a roundabout. The noise they make contrasts with the sounds of nature, yet it has its own, fascinating melody and rhythm. We may reject this notion, thinking it is invasive instead, but this means we are indeed noticing it and deciding that it is offensive. Yet the rhythms, were they captured and isolated in single moments, would surely reveal a unique musical composition that has a color and richness of its own.

If someone came up with a sound editing application on smartphones, would we develop a new appreciation for every undulation of sound that reaches our eardrums? Would we suddenly discover new rhythms, listen and ear in a new way?

I am now reminded of a musical group that turns noise into music and reminds us to listen with new ears: Stomp.

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