Finding a Way

          The process of becoming a college student is more than just a straightforward transition; it necessitates an entirely new definition of time management, while concurrently introducing a novel realm of extraordinary freedom. Finding a way—an obligation with an end resolve that is neither simplistic nor readily apparent—is critical in determining the quality of one’s college experience. Moreover, the development of a routine is undeniably effective in establishing a sense of order from the chaos of university life; it gives students the opportunity to make the best out of the undesirable, and to further improve upon the already favorable. Routines help to string together each individual day, providing a sense of holistic purpose to the seemingly menial busywork and tedious notetaking associated with many classes. Such convergence allows students to view their experiences at school from a broader, more comprehensive standpoint, bringing into consideration the real purpose of attending. I have found that my driving motive is the underlying fulfillment that comes from intellectual enlightenment, and an understanding that said satisfaction is well worth the everyday input of time and focus. My audiography lends, to the ear of the listener, an acoustic representation of my daily routine—my found way. In developing “a terrain in which ‘understanding’ and resonance, hearing and the ‘meaning of being,’ physics and philosophy, enter into complex and intimate relationships with each other,”[1] the compilation demonstrates the concept of intrinsic interrelatedness amongst the seemingly divergent tones, and the similarities shared amongst their implied themes.
          I chose to organize my sound bites in chronological order, creating the sensation of having small windows of auditory insight into the progression of an average day. The list begins with a familiar morning sound to many: the sip of a tall, hot coffee, followed by the unavoidable “ah” of contentment. The sound of coughing could be heard afterward, as my throat was apparently not so contented. The next clip features the zipping of a winter jacket and the rustling of adjustment. This is succeeded by a bite that begins with the sounds of shuffling feet, quickly interrupted by a primal noise of sorts let out by my roommate. Together, these recordings represent the thematic significance of mornings: the juxtaposition of push and pull. Caffeine facilitates the rise out of bed, while a nasty cough tempts one back toward the comfort of a soft blanket; a warm coat promotes that first step outside, while the biting cold makes one immediately reconsider the decision; the morning banter and general absurdities drag one away from a dull, slumberous state, while the frigid walk works to evoke the contrary.
          The sounds of midday begin with a recording from my macroeconomics lecture, with the din of incessant coughing overpowering the professor’s words. The noises of pills being taken are included in the next clip, occurring during the afternoon due to my lack of remembrance in the morning. The final midday clip is a short guitar sample, centered around a minor key and played in an aggressive style. Together, these recordings foster a somewhat darker theme than that of the morning selections: the decline of hope in accordance with exposure to unfortunate circumstances. The disappointment felt in not being able to interpret an instructor over a cacophony of sickness, the complications of forgetting medication and the implied negative impact of illness, and the process of channeling frustration through music all contribute to an unenthusiastic and downcast tone.

          The night portion of my audiography starts off with the sounds of an order being placed at Boloco, ensued by the running of a shower with music playing in the background. Next featured is a recording of an upbeat, slinky guitar riff, and after, the soft bubbling of a hookah with a bass-heavy musical number providing backdrop. Here, the theme of decompression after a long day is contrasted with the stress and exertion of the morning and midday. Anxiety and tension fade away with the sunlight, and the dusky cover of evening masks the imperfections of the day.

          From an auditory perspective, daily life has the tendency to meld together. Creating an audiography breaks down the miscellany into individual audial components, enabling the analysis of separate events as well as the thematic significance of groupings of sound. “The difference between the sense of hearing and the skill of listening is attention;”[2] the effort of compiling recordings elicits such attention and focus, and listening temporarily assumes a dominant position over subconscious aural absorption. One can hear the keynote sounds of murmuring voices, the ever-running window fan, and dull murmur of music throughout many of the recordings if listening is truly employed; these noises create a backdrop that becomes the overall hum and whir—the bustle and movement—of the perpetual cycle that is modern human existence. Through the back and forth of the morning, the melancholy of midday, and the repose of night, the sounds of college life are unified in the collaborative construction of a routine developed to assist the acquisition of academic insight. Throughout the observable ups and downs portrayed within the audiography, having an attemptedly holistic and inclusive view of the purpose of the college experience is key to maintaining my motivation.

[1] Veit Erlmann, Reason and Resonance: A History of Modern Aurality (New York: Zone Books, 2010), 12.
[2] Seth Horowitz, The Science and Art of Listening (New York: The New York Times, 2012), 1.
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One thought on “Finding a Way

  1. I like your description of your piece: ” the sensation of having small windows of auditory insight into the progression of an average day.” As I watched your sound clips accumulate on soundcloud as they popped up on my newsfeed, I liked to see how the sounds related to each other and the sort of dialogue that was happening between them.

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