Saturday, April 22, 2006

Listening To All The Sounds

During the time I was the Music, Dance and Drama critic for a newspaper, I was teaching a course on reviewing at a local college. One of the lectures was titled, "Listen, Really Listen" (which followed one called, "Look, Really Look"). My one regret is that I did not take the class out into our park, give each student a blindfold and then ask what they heard. Because we don't really listen.

If we were in the jungle, you bet we would listen. Every snap of a twig, every rustle of a leaf, any sound at all could make the difference between us having supper, or us being supper. Mother Nature gave us two ears so we could tell, very closely, where these sounds were coming from. She knew it was vital.

These days, we put almost all of them aside in our mostly safe, mostly visual world. Some remain, but we generally ignore noises; our brain puts them in the "don't bother hearing this" bin. That's pretty good, in many cases, but lots of times we miss some nice sounds.

If you can sit in your lawnchair without falling asleep (or, in the minutes before you do), try hard to listen, really listen. Birds, squirrels, distant traffic, people talking, insects buzzing, and whatever else reaches your ears. You might be surprised at the variety of really nice sounds you've never heard before -- or heard as an inquisitive child, but brushed aside as a busy adult. Go into a library and listen again as a child to the hushed sounds of learning; the post office; visit a grammar school and listen; next time you are in a supermarket, stop for a few minutes and listen.

Really listen. It can be fascinating and it can be refreshing.


Blogger Cold Josh Vail said...

There was a time many years ago when a group called CCR became an icon of music only they could produce. You heard 10 seconds of it, you knew who it was, similar to John Lee Hooker, Spike jones, Benny Goodman ( try fitting those three in the same sentence for the heck of it). Anyway, I would put on a 33 rpm and shut off the lights, turn the record player down low and listen to CCR chooglin' through their repertory. I was there, I heard riffs which nobody else ever heard and I would doze off. No, I had not burned one down, it was the art of hearing. Speaking of, I have also heard the silence. True!

Working in a fishing camp some 80 miles of dirt roads back in the woods where your listening experience is abrutply interrupted by a loon across the lake. Pure silence and you can not only imagine it, you can hear it. Not many places left that afford you this luxury.

Silence and CCR....kinda hard to beat.

April 28, 2006 3:53 PM  

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