Been There, Done That, Bought the T-Shirt – But Let’s Re-Visit

In class, it seemed as though most of us could not wait to move out of the ‘Sound’ inkblot and onto the next project, ‘Video.’ We had just wrapped up with ‘Image’ – it was so much fun taking pictures, manipulating them, showing them to our friends – and next we get to do that with moving pictures! But sound seemed almost like a little pothole in our digital media highway. As was mentioned several times in class, it was difficult for us to talk about sound – it was just something that we weren’t used to.

So although we have (for the moment) moved on from focusing on sound in class, I want to touch back upon it, because though sound might not be the sole focus of our digital media from here on out, it’ll still play a very important role in our last several projects.

So why was it so difficult for us to talk about sound? Why is it that we are so eager to show friends our image and video projects, but not to have them listen to our podcasts? (this was the case for me, hopefully not for everyone.) What was that awkwardness with describing sound, something we hear practically every second of every day? To answer these questions, I want to (briefly) explore our relation with sound to our relation with music.

Think about it. We seem to have a much less awkward relationship with music (whose medium IS sound) than we do with sound itself. We listen to music to make us feel; when we feel something, we listen to music. We use music to express, we use music to communicate, we use music to connect, we use music for many, many more reasons. If we are so in tune (excuse the pun) with music, than what is the jump when it comes to sound? After all, as was stated, music is sound. The elements of music (pitch, tempo, timbre, etc.) are exactly the same as the elements of sound.

Unfortunately, I do not have the answer to this question, although I can provide my opinion. I feel like this might be more of a personal question anyway, something each person should mull over and decide why it’s like that for them. For me, I feel that to be better able to talk about sound, I have to think about sound more musically. Re-listening to my podcast of Rivers Casino, I began to think about the tinkling of the slot machines as a beginning rhythm, a semblance of a beat – this beat was punctuated by the staccato laughs and cries of the people in the casino – the blending of voices and background music came together as a sort of harmony at the forefront of this soundscape. Thinking about it more musically allowed me to connect with how it made me feel, which made it easier for me to think about how I would discuss it.

So, if we ever happen to return to the concept of sound (and only sound) in class, my advice would be to think about it musically. Cheers!

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