Very quickly into analyzing the sounds of my daily routine, I found a pattern. For the most part, the sounds that are found in my everyday work seem to be monotonous and dull, while the sounds of my leisure/enjoyment are often random and meaningful. Although this is a broad generalization, it speaks to how much of a routine college is and also to the necessity for students to mix up their daily habits in order to find peace and balance in their life.
The first three sounds of my day are often accomplished in a half-awake mind frame that solely operates for efficiency, not stimulation. A contrast arises in the shower, however, while the steady beat of water pours out of the faucet as a perfect example of the monotonous noises of a daily ritual. However, the initial contact with the tepid water sends a jolt through my system that begins to awaken my senses. As I stand in my seemingly silent room afterwards, I quickly drag the bristles of my toothbrush back and forth across my teeth causing a coarse noise to be emitted that I seem to take for granted as a part of the tranquility of the early morning room. I choose to listen to “Run Through the Jungle” by Creedence Clearwater Revival on the way to class, because it is rhythmic, and the semantics of the song encourage me to walk with energy in my steps as if I was running through a jungle. The CCR song keeps me on edge, and, as Bijsterveld points out, “music [is] legitimized by reference to longstanding positive connotations of rhythm” (163). Like workers in a factory forced to listen to irregular noises of labor, I enjoy listening to a rhythm while walking to class because it increases my productivity (speed) and enjoyment of the process.
The sharp cutting of skates across ice is repeatedly followed by full stops. Although the stops repeat in the clip, a game of pickup hockey usually contains sounds of skates moving at random. Sharp cuts can be used as indicators in a pickup hockey game, for example, if I am looking to pass to a teammate who I know is behind me. I will use Chion’s Causal Listening idea in order to properly execute the pass. The cutting noise is used to precisely find my teammate’s (the cause of the sound) blade to place the puck where it needs to go.
Playing catch with a baseball is another example of random noises coming from an activity of excitement. Although there is disturbance in the recording, one can clearly make out loud snaps of the ball hitting a glove. These snaps are not at a steady beat, nor do they have the same pitch or volume level every throw. The quality of the catch location in the mitt and the speed of the throw provide variables to the sound and also contribute to the fun of the game.
The beepers from the Redstone Kitchen exemplify repetitive noises that symbolize the daily routine. The non-stop, irritating beeping captured in this recording can disappear once one does not have it at his/her side, but the beeping is ever present in the background noise of the hall. This is similar to how work is always on the horizon of a college student even if, for a moment, he/she has caught up on work and is enjoying leisure.
The next two noises compliment each other because they both represent leisure and relaxation. The initial crack of a carbonated beverage is symbolic of relaxation that is followed by the sound of swigging liquid and an emphatic “ah”. Coupled with the refreshment and instant relaxation, the sounds from a Bruins vs. Sabres hockey game are alive and pleasurably dissimilar to that from the daily grind. I use Chion’s idea of Semantic Listening, listening to comprehend a message, to see who is doing certain things in the hockey game. Causal Listening is also used to pick up background noises from the game, which can accommodate a better perception of the atmosphere of the arena. Sudden claps of sticks, disturbances in the boards, and yells from the players bring a human element to the game.
Lastly, after relaxation and a momentary break from work, the last two sounds signify my return to the daily grind. The first is that of boiling water as it generates warmth and increases volume. The soft click of the kettle signifies not only that the water has reached a boil, but also that the time has come to return to work. The slow, satisfying noise of the water filling the cup is only a false hope of calm. In a fitting conclusion to my day (and this blog post), I go back to work religiously typing on the keys that have each been pushed separately thousands of times over in order to create a product that must be handed in for rank. These noises will be repeated over again tomorrow, as the next day brings much of the same as the last: repetitive noise coupled with monotonous actions.
Bijsterveld, Karin. “Listening to Machines: Industrial Noise, Hearing Loss and the Cultural Meaning of Sound.” The Sound Studies Reader (2012): 152-64. Text.
Chion, Michael. “The Three Listening Modes.” The Sound Studies Reader. Ed. Jonathan Sterne. New York: Routledge, 2012. 48-53. Print.
Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Run Through the Jungle”