November 07, 2003
Shhhh, listen

creative.jpg Stop what you’re doing now and listen to the world around you for two or three minutes. Go ahead and close your eyes; it’s sometimes easier to focus on sounds when you’re not distracted by seeing things. But it’s fine to leave them open, too..

What do you hear? After a few moments, I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at all you can hear and describe just from the sounds. What makes the sounds unique? I hear a dog barking but what kind of dog is it? How far away? Is it happy or angry?

At first, I notice the humming of the computers next to my desk but after a few seconds, I realise that it’s not just one sound. There’s a high-pitched steady whine and a lower hum, plus a deep whirrring. It’s man-made music in harmony. If plaid had a sound…

I’m listening carefully as I type this, so I also hear the sound of fingers against keyboard. Sometimes I strike the keys with my fingernails and there’s a faint click paired with the sound of plastic pressing against plastic. The spacebar sounds hollower and louder than the other keys. My typing is erratic as I listen a little, type, listen a little more, type, then click with the mouse to correct a typo… The mouse is heavy and its battery door is a little bit loose, so it makes a heavy clap-rattle when I pick it up and move it.

Now the dryer is beeping. Five 1/2 second beeps in something a little flatter than B indicate that it’s time to put the laundry away. When I don’t get up to do it, it complains with a quick double-beep and I can hear the click of the Off switch opening the circuit.

The door to the veranda is ajar and all throughout my domestic harmonies, there’s a descant of traffic noises from the elevated Shuto expressway. Swishes of cars and an occasional delivery truck rushing by a little bit faster than the cars. The traffic is moving smoothly right now. Someone on the local street guns their engine at the light and peels out. A pizza delivery scooter zips past—it sounds like a buzzing bee.

The Marunouchi line runs by every few minutes. First there’s the clattering of wheels against tracks echoing in the tunnel, then as it gets nearer the rush of air going past the retaining walls grows louder until it’s abreast of my ears, then there’s a slight echo as it passes under the cross street. The sound fades away quickly as it heads towards Ikebukuro. A train passes in the other direction—the rumble is deeper and the wheels are squealing, it must be full of commuters.

I like giving my ears center stage of the senses. What did you hear?

Posted by kuri at November 07, 2003 12:00 AM


I too am also typing while doing this little experiment. Doors slam shut and creak open as people sign on and off of instant messenger. I’m currently playing The Strokes’ new CD more quietly than normal. Julian’s voice seems like an aimless, relaxed wanderer. Cicadas still make their nightly racket outside- they’re a sign of summer, which is clearly over- I wonder when they’ll go away for the winter. It’s quarter til one, and the chords from the grandfather clock chimes echo into my room. There’s the occasional computer noise, but now Nikolai Fraiture’s bass playing is particularly notable because it’s a rather soothing drone.

Posted by: eri on November 7, 2003 02:53 PM

I hear the way too loud fan of the power supply of my new computer. From the other side the power supply of my router/server is jamming my ear with noise. As I’m turning slowly deaf because of a defect I can’t even hear any details in this fan noise. Over this noise I can here water dropping from the tap in the kitchen. And then I could hear my neighbours doorbell. Seems, his door is open.

Posted by: kaeng on November 7, 2003 05:09 PM

Oooooong of computers like a group of technical monks, car door slam at the apartment lot next door, the szzzzzzzt of the neon sign short, dog bark, click of keys with springy reverb against the desktop, breath, heartbeat, dog again, chirp of birds from the powerline perches, the slow creaking ease of the house into its foundations, sighsputter of coffeepot.

Posted by: Jenn on November 8, 2003 12:09 AM

Various rattles, plops and swishes as my mom takes clothes out of the dryer, the ticks and clicks of the house as it settles, the brrrmmm of the dryer as it starts, the slight ringing of my own ears (I’ve got a cold), the gritty noise of my mom’s nail file.

Cool! ^_^

Posted by: Razor on November 8, 2003 01:13 AM
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