now that class has officially ended and final projects are being turned in, i’ve realized how much of a sound experience this class has been. not only through listening to videos or music, but also in being able to talk about sound as a subject through readings. things that i would normally overlook in my day to day life have become a bit more clear, and i find myself paying attention to noises that i wouldn’t have concerned myself with in the past. i’ve been encouraged to consider why i value silence, why i find certain sounds soothing and other sounds unbearable, and what sounds mean to me on a personal level. sound has become something so much more present in my everyday life with the things i’ve taken away from this class. when i’m calmed by listening to music or get wrapped up in nostalgia from a song, i’m faced with the question of how sound triggers these kinds of feelings. when i walk through the city and hear the sounds of LA, i’m curious about what the soundscape of other cities sounds like. thanks to this class, i’ve realized that there’s so much out there that i’d been ignoring in the past; 440 has made me more inclined to pull my earbuds out every once in a while, open my ears, and experience all that’s around me.
in about 2-3 weeks, i’ll be leaving the hectic city of LA to go back home to the suburbs in north carolina. it’s weird to think that not only will i physically be in a different environment, but i’ll be in a completely different soundscape. i’ll no longer wake up to the sound of my roommates chatting, or hear the fountain beside my apartment window run all day long. i’ll no longer hear the honks and screeches of LA traffic or the hustle and bustle of students biking to class on campus in the afternoon. my day-to-day routine and the things i’ve become so accustomed to hearing on a normal basis will all dissolve for at least a month.
back home, i’ll get to wake up to the sound of my mom’s (loving) nagging while food is being prepared in the kitchen. from morning to night, the streets will be silent - there’s almost no traffic in the small town of wilmington, which means less honking and tires skidding (probably the biggest change from LA to NC). i never really realized it before, but just from observing the kinds of sounds you hear in an average day, you can fully understand the environment you’re in. walking the neighborhood at night, i’ll hear the sounds of children playing and neighbors exchanging greetings. these signify two things - sounds of children at play means i’m no longer on a college campus, and sounds of greetings being exchanged must mean i’m no longer in a busy city, but rather, in a close-knit, small town.
though songs can mentally transport us to a different time or period in our lives, sounds of everyday life can transport us to different places. soundscapes give us a better look at where we are, where we’ve been, and where we can expect to be.
we can’t imagine thanksgiving without the food, but try to imagine thanksgiving without sound - would it be the same? going home and celebrating thanksgiving was a little different this year. after taking this class and paying even more attention to the noises around me, it’s hard to envision spending time with family without the usual sounds of conversation, laughter, and clanking dishes. this thanksgiving, i’m thankful to be able to listen to the sounds of:
- my uncle’s prayers
- spoons, forks and knives being taken out from the drawers
- food being prepared
- the doorbell ringing, the door opening
- table conversation
- my cousins’ voices, i haven’t heard in months
- the TV on low volume, faintly playing in the background
katz’s essay on “listening in cyberspace” got me thinking about where i fall in this new age of digital music and file-sharing. i think most, if not all, of us are guilty of freeloading from online music sites. when napster closed, there was kazaa, and when kazaa closed, a whole new domain of file-sharing sites emerged - now there’s 4shared, mediafire, and other sites where users can upload songs or download from other users. i depend on file-sharing sites so much without even realizing it - if i want to know the title of a song i just heard on the radio, i type in the lyrics and a DL link from a downloading site comes up in my search. if i find a song i like on youtube, and there isn’t a DL link available online, i go to an mp3 converter site and rip the song from youtube myself. i’ll even admit that i’ve never bought a song or album from itunes - why pay for a song when you can get it for free with just a simple search?
it’s sort of an all-or-nothing thing for me. i don’t think it’s worth it to pay through the itunes store for access to mp3s, but for some reason, i still find something so valuable about owning CDs. even though i’ve become so accustomed to downloading music online, i’ll always be willing to pay for an album that’s worth it. thinking about my CD collection from middle school, i go back to when CD players were what every kid was carrying around. sure, even if people buy CDs nowadays, technology has made it so that we’re all importing songs onto our itunes and listening to it digitally through our iphones anyway. but the feeling of having that physical copy in your hand - it’s something i don’t think mp3 collections can ever replace. i’ll download songs i like from artists i hear about in passing, but if it’s my favorite artist? i make it a priority to buy the CD. there’s something about having that “real thing” katz refers to that’s so satisfying. though i no longer have my early 2000s CD collection with me, i still have a stack of CDs on my shelf that’s grown from high school to now. to me, some artists and some gold albums are always worth the investment.
it’s funny how you can listen to a song and be reminded of a certain year, time, or moment. 90s korean oldies remind me of my childhood, james blunt songs take me back to middle school, epik high songs make me recall my high school days…even now in college, i link certain songs to freshman year, sophomore year, and on. it’s not even that anything significant happened at the time - i just happened to listen to this song every day on the bus ride home, i listened to that song a lot while walking from Fluor Tower to Parkside. little events that meant nothing at the time can really add up to be something memorable. you can relive your past by creating a simle playlist and bring back a memory by pressing play - music can transport.