A Day in the Life of Music

Living in a world constantly bombarded by visual stimuli begins to numb ones ability to hear. Our lives have become so focused on what things look like and how we visually perceive objects that we have forgotten how to truly listen to the atmosphere around us. Horowitz states “We tend to think of the world as a place we see, interacting with things and people based on how they look,” supporting the claim that by neglecting the audible world that is constantly surrounding us, we miss out on pivotal points in our lives. College students (myself included) are under constant pressures and are forced adapt to this ever-increasingly visual based society. However, it’s when we are able to slow down and actively listen that we can completely alter our perspectives of our day-to-day lives.

A typical day in the life of a college student would seem fairly simple. Keep your head down to read the new Facebook notifications that pop up into your slightly cracked iPhone, walk from class to class listening to the monotonous conversations between other students, sit down for dinner with your friends and talk about how you all cannot wait until the weekend. This has become our routine. The constant chatter of campus life, the cutting wind, the sounds of generators and fans in classrooms, have all become part of our mosaic soundscape. It would seem that nowadays the average student is more likely to spend his/her time in silence, than sharing experiences with their friends. Who’s to blame? What is the thief that has been crippling our abilities to foster new friendships and create memorable moments with groups of friends? It is because we have become accustomed listeners. We are so used to hearing the same music, sounds, and tones, that we lose interest in finding anything new. However, if you add new sounds to a daily routine you can drastically change your outlook on your “typical day,” just as Horowitz stated saying “The richness of life doesn’t lie in the loudness and the beat, but in the timbres and the variations that you can discern if you simply pay attention [1].”

My collection of sounds is a testament to what adding and sharing new audible experiences can do for a daily routine. Even starting the day off with a slight change in the normal tones you hear can give you a colorful perspective on your daily activities. My first and second clips are connected. Normally the shower only exposes me to the sounds of the water coming out of the showerhead and the constant light drumming of the droplets hitting the floor. Adding music helped me to pay greater attention and think more about the keynote sounds I would normally overlook on a daily basis. This allowed me to pick up on the leaky faucet and create a unique sound using what would be simple background noise. Yet another example of how “listening tunes our brain to the patterns of our environment faster than any other sense, and paying attention to the nonvisual parts of our world feeds into everything [1].”

Music and sound serves not only as a portal to emotions and feelings that one could deem inconceivable, but also as a catalyst in social interactions.  The rest of the sounds are not what a typical day in a college student’s life sound like normally. They are, however, possibilities of what it could become through the addition of different sounds and music. All of the clips such as walking to the concert at Radiobean, the concert itself, and clips of friends making their own music for fun bring a powerful message. All of the people heard in the crowd are there to listen to music together. Not only is the collective experiencing the same sound, but also everyone has his or her own interpretations and individual thoughts. It’s this colossus of ideas and different interpretations that ultimately brings people together and that can change ones “typical” into something much more meaningful – especially in a setting such as the one presented in my audiography. When one is immersed so fully by sounds (i.e. the roar of the crowd, voices of the performers) two things occur: the overpowering awareness of the presence of resonance, and the need to use all three types of listening. In a crowd you are constantly hearing the buzz of conversation mixed with the music and the softer keynote sounds, which “entails adjacency, sympathy, and the collapse of the boundary between perceiver and perceived” – the embodiment of resonance [2]. You are also forced to listen to the music and tones on a variety of levels including “a specific person’s voice, the sound produced by a particular unique object,” the “code of a language to interpret a message,” and “the listening mode that focuses on the traits of the sound itself [3].”

The use of all three modes of listening as well as the aural resonance that is constantly heard is what brings people together. It is not the phone screens, or the numerous text messages to set up plans, but the ability to share in this moment of hearing music and truly listening to it that brings people together and can ultimately change the outlook of one’s typical day at college. The average sounds one would hear during a typical day at school would be much different than these, however, with the addition of different sounds and new music, a typical day could be easily altered to change one’s entire outlook on college.



[1] Seth Horowitz, The Science and Art of Listening (New York: The New York Times, 2012)

[2] Veit Erlmann, Reason and Resonance: A History of Modern Aurality (New York: Zone Books, 2010)

[3] Michel Chion, “The Three Listening Modes.” The Sound Studies Reader. Comp. Jonathan Sterne. New York: Routledge, 2012

3 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of Music

  1. I think your claim that college is primarily a visual experience is really interesting. For me, education is very auditory. I find what a teacher or professor says is always more helpful than what they write or present in a powerpoint, perhaps because I have poor eyesight and find glasses a nuisance. It brings up the question “Would you rather see a visually stimulating presentation with a poor speaker, or an excellent speaker with minimal visual aid?” Also, I was very surprised that you chose to pursue the music in your life. I’m glad to see you move beyond your comfort level into territory you don’t dedicate a lot of thought to.

  2. I liked that you included atypical sounds to show what a soundscape could be turned into if we appreciated and paid attention to the otherwise monotonous, everyday sounds we hear, like a dripping faucet. Instead of letting it all blend into the background, it can be transformed into something musical and exciting if we’re willing to put some effort into actually listening.

  3. I enjoyed your collection of sound selections, especially regarding your consideration of the emotional and connotative impacts of music. The notion of employing all three of Chion’s “Modes of Listening” as a method of opening up and connecting with the people the world around us is certainly intriguing, as well.

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