What better to document aurally then the legendary lazy Sunday? Everyone knows what a lazy Sunday entails; sleeping in, having a big breakfast, meandering through trivial tasks, relaxing and snacking. When I close my eyes and allow my imagination to brainstorm on these ideas, visual images spring to existence, enticing scents cause my nostrils to flare, but my auditory imagination remains rather limited. I recorded a few sounds and captured some soundscapes which I often encounter on these wonderful lazy Sunday’s. The sounds proceed chronologically throughout the day allowing for the listener to build a soundscape of my day that not only is very diverse in its sounds but also spans a segment of time.
I began with the boiling of my kettle and the pouring of a mug of tea. Listening to this recording casually would provide the most practical. The ferocious bubbling followed by the ring of the kettle bell proceeds the pouring of a liquid which one can easily assume to be boiling water.
I then recorded a few second of a John Coltrane and the flipping of a page in my Biology textbook because who doesn’t love jazz music while they are studying. Chion’s three modes of listening can be applied here as well. Because John Coltrane doesn’t always have words to accompany his beautiful notes, semantic listening reveals very little on the noise but casual and reduced listening are both rather informative in this situation. Casual listening allows for us to associate unique sounds to specific instruments and the reduced listening tells us about the quality of the notes released by these instruments.
After I aurally sampled a random 45 second period in the Grundel (the Harris-Millis dining complex), I began to think about Karin Bijsterveld’s theory on how we as a modernized and industrialized society listen to machines. When I was directly listening in the Grundel I felt as if it were a relatively quiet day, but when I went back and listened to the recording I heard this infernal hum of massive kitchen appliances. Once I was aware of the never ending drawl of the kitchen, it was all I could hear, it almost became deafening yet the more time I spent in the Grundel, the quieter the roar became until I hardly noticed anything. The human ear is an incredible machine with an equally amazing processing unit, its ability to acclimate to constant stimulus is fascinating.
Watching TV is primarily a visual task, so listening to an audio recording of me watching television seemed like an interesting approach to mapping a soundscape of a lazy Sunday. Casual and semantic listening work hand in hand here to provide grounds for identification of the television shows heard in the background.
Deviating slightly from the theme of a lazy Sunday, I actually did something semi productive in completing a load of laundry. The laundry room is another example of human ears adapting to the audio environment and almost canceling out the sounds of machines. There are however, sounds which permeate everything. The awful, squealing beep of the laundry machine, from a reduced listening perspective, is just a high enough pitch to always trigger the stimulation levels necessary to induce hearing.
Redstone dining is the perfect meal for a lazy Sunday, and therefore the associated sounds make up a section of the soundscape of a lazy Sunday. The pager system for food delivery at Redstone produces an annoying beeping that always hovers in the dining hall. I once asked an employee of the dining hall what the beeping pagers mean to them, and there response was very in line with the ideas of Murray Schafer. The employee said to me, “You always hear the pagers, but eventually you don’t hear them, you know what I mean?” This reminded me of his opening line, “We have no ear lids. We are condemned to listen. But this does not mean our ears are always open” (Schafer 25).
A true Sunday always has some variety of sports to watch and today was a hockey day. My roommate and I watched the Bruins battle the Sabres, and I took a small audio sample of the game in which semantic listening can be applied to gather meaning from the phonemes and morphemes that make up the English language.
Having recently been sick, I still had a slight cough interrupting my lazy Sunday. I set up my microphone and waited until I had to cough. This noise I made is identified easily via casual listening and by mixing reduced and casual listening, one may, with the right set of skills, be able to deduce a rough estimate of my size based on the sound of my cough.
The pilgrimage to the water fountain down the hall from me happens at least five time a day a recording had to be included. This was one of my favorite recordings because it captured a conversation I had at the watering hole, a very common event when replenishing my water supplies. Because this is such an average sound for me, I felt it had to be included in my soundscape of a lazy Sunday.
My final sound was of my friends and I just hanging out and munching on some crackers and cheese. I have a lot of social interactions on Sunday’s so I figured a little bit of dialogue, no matter how random, should be included in the soundscape. It also opens the perfect window for semantic listening to be applied.
Sunday Morning Tea
Coltrane and Page Flipping
2:15 in the Grundel
Sunday Afternoon TV Relaxation
Laundry on Sunday Night
Picking Up an Order at Redstone
Bruins vs Sabres
Filling Up My Waterbottle
Crackers and Cheese
Bijsterveld, Karin. “Listening to Machines: Industrial Noise, Hearing Loss and the Cultural Meaning of Sound.” The Sound Studies Reader (2012): 152-64. Text.
Chion, Michel. “The Three Listening Modes.” The Sound Studies Reader (2012): 48-53. Text.
Schafer, Murray. “Open Ears.” Thinking About Sound (n.d.): 25-39. Web.