The Sounds I Miss

So far, I do not like UVM very much. This is partially due to external circumstances, such as the cultural differences between Vermont and New York City, and partially due to internal circumstances, such as my stubbornly nostalgic mindset that refuses to embrace change and constantly misses my old life. I face these issues on an everyday basis, and they are reflected in the sounds of my daily life.

If there is one thing I can say is better about college than high school, it is that my classes are not as early. Despite this, I still need two alarms to have any chance of waking up, and procrastination in the form of repeatedly hitting the snooze button is my first act of every weekday.

Since I am still tired, I prefer to make myself breakfast as opposed to going outside to a dining hall. This semester I usually wake up before my roommate and try to be quiet, but when I recorded the sounds of pouring and eating cereal, I realized it was not quite as quiet as I thought. I also like cereal because it represents the usual, seeing as I ate cereal almost every morning for both elementary and high school.

When I finally have to walk outside, to go to my classes for example, it is usually colder than I’d like it to be. I can only speculate that this is the reason for this next sound becoming a much more prominent part of my life, but it could also be the change in my natural environment or something else all together. Whatever the reason, I feel like I’ve had the longest cold of my life.

When I get back to my dorm, I am usually tired. One of my main sources of happiness here is listening to lively, danceable music that makes me feel good. Aside from the fact that I love this song, another likely reason it uplifts my mood is because I saw the group at a very fun on-the-beach concert with my cousins and sister in France this summer, so it brings me to a happier, more comfortable, and better time.

If I am honest with myself, I realize that listening to music is one of my main forms of avoiding overwhelming feelings brought on by the thought of homework and other daily responsibilities. In an effort to deal with this better, I have started to make To-Do lists more and more regularly to organize my thoughts work more efficiently.

Unfortunately, writing the list is often the most successful part of my day in regards to getting my work done.  Part of the reason for this is the clutter in my room. A few times per week, I make some half-hearted attempts to organize my desk before starting my work.

When I inevitably give up on this idea and once again come to the realization that my room is not conducive to working well, I often go to the library. By the time I get there it is already pretty late into the evening (9:20pm in this recording), which I don’t mind, because it is less crowded, which means less people for me to listen to and get distracted by (I don’t like the silent floors because I feel like every sound I make is way too loud).

When I don’t have homework to do, I go to the UVM Men’s Basketball games. I am a big basketball fan, and it is fun. With the lone exception of the raucous crowd showing for their nationally televised game, the games would benefit from a larger (and much younger) crowd.

As a funny symbol of my inability to embrace this university as my new home, many nights when the UVM team plays have coincided with when my beloved New York Knicks NBA team plays, and I often rush back to my dorm after the UVM game to catch the end of the Knicks game on my computer.

Due to the fact that I often work late into the night in the library or watch basketball games, and I always ate dinner late back home, I take full advantage of the late night dining services provided at Harris-Millis. I usually go alone, but the fact that its so late and pretty empty makes me mind less.

When describing the three listening modes, composer Michel Chion writes about causal, semantic, and reduced listening. I did not focus on semantic listening—interpreting messages through communication—for this paper because I have conversations far less often than I used to (Chion 50). While recording these sounds, and while listening back to the recordings, I was forced to focus much more on the “traits of the sound” themselves, which is reduced listening (50). However, it is causal listening, or “listening to a sound in order to gather information,” that Chion says is the most common, and this holds true for me in not so obvious ways (48). While sounds like the alarms tell me it is time to savor my last few moments of sleep, and sounds from the UVM crowd signify how lively (or not) the atmosphere is, (and are obviously examples of causal listening) much of my causal listening comes from the lack of sounds I pay attention to, which signify to me that I spend too much time alone.  When it comes down to it, I think of my time here at UVM as being characterized mostly by silence: the unhealthy amount of time spent doing nothing in my dorm room, the meals eaten alone, the work I do at the library. Seth Horowitz would argue that the reason I feel this way is because I don’t pay attention, therefore I hear without listening. After recording the sounds of these seemingly silent activities, I would have to agree with him. As I write this in my otherwise silent room, it occurs to me that I could have recorded the sound of my typing, because it is in fact quite loud. Despite the fact that I don’t live in silence, what I really miss from my past is what R. Murray Schafer would call keynote sounds and soundmarks, the sounds that made up my environment. As Schafer writes, “Noises are the sounds we have learned to ignore,” and coming to college has resulted in noise having a much larger and unwanted role in the sound of my life.

Works Cited

Chion, Michel. The Three Listening Modes.

Schafer, R. Murray. The Soundscape.

Horowitz, Seth S. The Science and Art of Listening.



An Academic Audiography

I sat down last Sunday to brainstorm ideas for this assignment and found myself distracted by the chatter in the hallway, the endless opening and closing of doors, a bass thumping somewhere beneath me and the remarkably loud busses periodically passing by. Frustrated by my lack of focus on things that required my attention, I plugged in my iPod and proceeded to play my favorite playlist, a queer collection of country, hip hop, rock and show tunes. This worked for a few minutes, until the words flowing from the speakers became more important than the words trickling onto the page. I switched to my most played Pandora Radio station, Classical Piano Radio. As I sat and stared at a half filled page of useless notes and quotes, I noticed the soft, rhythmic click-clack click-clack of the pen in my hand and realized I was involuntarily creating the noise. This was a sound that punctuated every part of my academic life. Anytime there was a pen in my hand, be it in a lecture hall, study room or at my desk, I was clicking it. I wondered what other noises must characterize collegiate education for me; and so began the auditory analysis of Alex’s academic adventures.

In order to find what sounds define my learning experience, I recoded ten separate noises that I hear or produce at least a few times every week, starting with my main motivator, the sweet symphonic sound of my coffee machine, and proceeding with the sounds of classes, coursework and concentration. In order to ensure that my recordings were organic, I captured clips of ten or fifteen minutes and extracted short demos to summarize the entire sound. The demos are in roughly chronological order between two days and the distinguished pen click can be heard in almost all of them.


While only captured in a few of my clips*, I often use music or radio to hone in my concentration, especially when working on math homework, or taking my first set of notes on a reading (I copy them in silence later). I decided to further investigate specifically why having background noise helps me focus in certain situations. That practice contrasts Dr. Seth Horowitz analysis of the effect of technology on our ability to listen. Rather than “losing [the skill of listening] in a world of digital distraction,” I’m gaining the ability to stifle unimportant ambient noise through the use of music [1]. In fact, I view my employment of audio technology as a form of concentration and direction of attention rather than a distraction. Michel Chion sheds some light on why I need a distraction like classical music in his differentiation of three modes of listening. The most common is causal listening which “consists of listening to a sound in order to gather information about its cause” [2]. Therefore, the laughter in the hall, for example, lets me know something amusing has happened, and makes me want to find out what it was. If I chose to block out those noises with lyrical music I begin to employ semantic listening “which refers to a code or a language to interpret a message” [3]. My brain automatically recognizes the lyrics as something I should listen to, especially since I know the songs well, and I can no longer devote my attention to the task in front of me. Classical music is the best way to solve all of the previously mentioned issues since I am not a student of music and can therefore listen without involuntarily thinking about the noise. It almost allows me to “turn-off” my sense of hearing.

Moving beyond my use of music while doing homework, these two modes are very applicable to the other sounds of my academic life. In a lecture it is important interpret the information being translated by language through semantic listening (especially if your professors have accents), whereas at my work study job, causal listening lets me know if they machines are working properly or if something is at a risk of breaking. Now that I know what aurally characterizes my academic life, I can use it to my benefit.


*I had situational constraints when trying to record some of my sounds as I commonly have to use headphones in my room and in the study rooms so I am not bothering others.

Works Cited

[1] Seth Horowitz, The Science and Art of Listening. (New York: The New York Times, 2012), 2.

[2] Chion, Michael, “The Three Listening Modes.” The Sound Studies Reader. (New York: Routledge, 2012), 48.

[3] Ibid. 50.




Commonality and Repetition

After beginning ones college life, it is very easy to notice all that is perceived can be boiled down into two categories: that which is static, and that which is changing. Static perceptions can be seen as constant, but not in the sense that there is no break from their presence. These perceptions are, instead, repetitive and dull from achieving a label of ‘usual’. Even the most chaotic of environments, given time, can morph into background static. Taking from the work of Karen Bijsterveld, quoting Doron K. Antrim, “‘the ear tends to follow’ the agreeable ‘regular tonal pulsations’ of music and ‘ to forget’ the irritating and fatiguing ‘regular pulsations’ of noise” (Bijsterveld 156). The audiography I have assembled, Static, explores the constant sounds of my life and the way I listen to these sounds.

Tracks like “That Darn Alarm”, “Morning Shower” and “Genetics Homework” are examples of sounds that, while being heard and recognized, do not entirely register. The shower, the sounds of pencil on paper and the alarm, used solely by my roommate, are all sounds that I no longer pay attention to, simply because of their lack of importance and, in the case of the alarm, because I rarely get up when my roommate does. In the words of Set Horowitz, “[I] keep most sounds off [my] cognitive radar unless they might be of use as a signal” (Horowitz, 4). Static sounds that hold no importance to me often go unnoticed, even if they are heard.

There are two examples of ambiance included in my audiography, displaying two different settings that are experienced in similar ways. While the background noise in my room tends to be quiet at times, the Marche is loud and full of voices and music. As different as these environments are, I ‘hear’ similarly in both. The sounds of the radiator and wind outside are dimmed out just as the conversations and music are in the Marche. Both of the sounds experienced in these areas, heard on an everyday basis, have little significance and are diminished to give way to other sounds that I may cognitively find important.

The track “Suitemate Playing Guitar” is an example of a sound that is heard often in my suite. My suitemate likes serenades us with songs he has written (or like this case, songs we have requested) and often I have found myself semiconsciously using the character of his songs as an indicator for his mood. This act of using semantic listening, something Chion describes as listening for “a code or language to interpret a message” (Chion, 50), is one way the common sounds of my life and translated into something meaningful.

Practice” is a track capturing the work I do at the music center on a daily basis. The amount of time spent playing the instrument have left me familiar with it and the music, but unlike the other examples, the familiarity with the sounds has not left me unaware to what is being played. On the contrary, I often listen harder to understand what I am playing and what must be done to improve my interpretation of the piece. Another example of semantic listening, I often pull meaning from the emotions the composer is trying to convey through the music to try and better perform the pieces. Using causal listening, which Chion describes as“listening to a sound in order to gather information about its cause or source” (Chion, 48), I often have to identify what is being played wrong in order to fix it. The variety of listening methods used while practicing make practicing it something common but not off the radar.

The sounds that are heard on a common basis often go unnoticed, often existing in the background but given no thought. Some are continuous, others are repetitive, but most of these sounds are ignored to leave more room to focus on sounds that we are unaccustomed to. When we do listen to the sounds we have diminished in recognition, we employ a variety of techniques suited to analyze and process the sounds, in the hope that we may gleam meaning from the underlying patterns and repetitions.


Works Cited

Bijsterveld, Karin. “Listening to Machines.” The Sound Studies Reader. Jonathan Sterne. New York: Routledge, 2012. 152-167. Print.

Chion, Michel. “The Three Listening Modes.” The Sound Studies Reader. Jonathan Sterne. New York: Routledge, 2012. 48-53. Print.

Horowitz, Seth. “The Science and Art of Listening.” New York Times. 9 Nov 2012. Web.



The Sounds of Winter

Something that I am very familiar with is the sound of winter in Vermont. Growing up here, I’ve always accepted it as the season of snowboarding, dragging sleds of hay out to my horses, and the rumble of the snow blower. However, UVM has depicted an entirely new concept of winter that is easy to explore with sound.

I begin my audiography in the Davis Center tunnel. In order to escape the frigid wind howling off the lake, I try to take the tunnel as much as possible. Once I started paying attention to my walks through, it became clear to me that there were two very separate soundscapes at work. The first is during actual class time. This causes near silence in the trek between athletic and central campuses, a trek that I tend to take with only three or four other silent travellers. However, during my rush back to University Heights North at the end of the next block, the tunnel is complete chaos. The line of people waiting to get into the door is the first clue, followed by the loud voices and roar of students scrambling to class or to eat. It ends with the second bottleneck up the stairs and out the door onto athletic. This is something that I only experience in the winter; on fair days, the masses opt to enjoy the weather outside.

Following my rush through the tunnel, I’m usually ready for something to warm me up. The newest addition to my dorm room is my espresso maker; the roar of the coffee brewing and the light tones of the milk frother are always well-received noises after the bitter cold. This tends to be accompanied by some procrastination in the form of Netflix and a cozy blanket. One of my favorite shows is Desperate Housewives. The upbeat theme song instantly relaxes me, an assurance that for at least 43 minutes I won’t have to worry about the work I’m pushing off. Occasionally the four women’s lives are put on hold so I can wash my cup and spoon in the sink, and again when I need to refill my water bottle to combat the dry air emanating from the heater above my head. This has recently been aided by the installment of the water bottle station on the UHN1 side, which has a very distinct hum followed by the trickle of excess water.

When I finally venture out again, sometimes to my next class or to dinner, the cyclical squeal of the heater in the entrance to UHN2 always catches my attention. It’s been a distinct sound since the heating system got switched on in the fall, annoying anyone who is forced to wait there. As I walk outside, my boots mimic the squeak in the snow-packed pathways. Due to the storm, there are plow trucks everywhere, dictating where I can and cannot walk. The beeping as they reverse upsets the peacefulness of the cold day.

Another trademark of the change in temperature is my desire to take the bus downtown or across campus instead of walking. I can usually make it to Waterman before my fingers begin to numb and I hop on the College Street Shuttle. Instantly, the heating vents hit me as I sit down for the warm ride. However, the cold doesn’t bother me when I am able to get out and go snowboarding, usually either to Bolton or Smuggs. Unlike many of the other sounds, the scrape of my board against ice is something I’ve been familiar with my entire life.

These sounds create a very different soundscape than the one I experience in warmer months; the shouts in the sun are replaced by the scraping of ice, the whir of my bike by the crowded bus, and so on. However, both are soundscapes that tend to be overlooked. But throughout this project, I noticed that my sense of hearing became attuned to picking up interesting sounds in everything I did. As Michel Chion would say, my listening turned from solely being causal to being reduced; or it focused “on the traits of the sound itself, independent of its cause and of its meaning” (50). I became more concerned with the intricacies of the actual noises instead of the source, since I needed to notice sounds that I tend to ignore. Instead of simply detecting the noise around me, I would actually practice resolution and sometimes identification as well; I would really listen to sound in order to understand it (Arehart 12). This is something that can be challenging in today’s society of constant overstimulation where we are rarely forced to heed the world around us. Through this project, I was forced to understand Horowitz’s conclusion that “listening is a skill that we’re in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload” (2).

Works Cited

Arehart, Kathryn H. “The Nature of Hearing and Hearing Loss.” Sounscape. 1st ed. Vol. 6. Melbourne: Printing Edge Melbourne, 2005. 11-14. Print.

Cherry, Marc. “Give Me the Blame.” Desperate Housewives. ABC. Burbank, California, 2011. Television.

Chion, Michel. “The Three Listening Modes.” The Sound Studies Reader. Ed. Jonathan Sterne. New York: Routledge, 2012. 48-53. Print.

Horowitz, Seth S. “The Science and Art of Listening.” The New York Times 9 Nov. 2012: 1-3. Print.


The New, the Old, and the Changing

I’ve noticed two strikingly contradictory things about life at college. First, I’ve noticed how different it is from life at home. I see my family only for short periods of time over breaks, I have a completely different sort of workload, I am perpetually meeting new people, and I am beginning to live independently. Second, I’ve noticed how ironically similar college life is to life at home. Somehow, a part of me expected that my whole life would change immediately on August 24 when I moved in. This, of course, was not true. Although I am certainly transitioning into a different stage of my life, and my setting has shifted from New Jersey to Vermont, I am not a different person and much of my daily life is the same. In my Audiography, I have separated my daily sounds into the sounds that have not changed from high school, the sounds that are new to me at college, and the sounds that have not changed but are now regular for new reasons. The list is not in chronological order, and although I have included these sounds because they are regular, not all of them are daily. Rather, it is a compilation of normal sounds organized according to how they represent the recent changes in my life.

Many of the sounds I hear daily and their meanings have not changed since I came to college. For example, I have woken up every day since sixth grade to an alarm, and this particular blaring alarm has done the job for the past two years. After the alarm comes the sound of my electric toothbrush. The rustle of papers always has and always will mean reading and studying, two very regular activities in my life. Finally, I included Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds by the Beatles to symbolize all the time I spend listening to and playing music, which constitutes a large portion of my life. Although I apply Chion’s “semantic listening” (Chion 50) when interpreting music, most of these sounds hardly register in my attention anymore.

The transition to college, though, brought many new sounds. Though I am now accustomed to these sounds, each initially sparked my “causal listening” because I would listen to “gather information about its cause” (Chion 48). Perhaps the most apparently different sound on my list is the sound of the University Heights staircase. I no longer notice it, but the loud echos of doors, footsteps and voices struck me early in the year. The cold, empty ring of the staircase is a sound which I rarely encountered at home, and, upon moving in, it reminded me that I now live in a dorm with hundreds of other people. The sound of my own breath and footsteps when walking to and from class is another sound which is newly regular. To me, it signifies the increased independence and solitude of college life. The sound of waiting for the campus bus is also new to me. Although I have ridden many busses in my life, I have never done so regularly. Now, I am accustomed to the sounds of passing cars while I wait at the bus stop. Finally, the sound of Brennan’s represents the change in my daily eating experience. At home, most of my meals were spent either snacking in the kitchen or sitting down at the table. Now, all of my meals are spent in crowded dining halls. I think this marks a significant shift.

Finally, I shared two sounds that are not new to me at college, but have changed in the reason for their regularity. The first is the sound of boots in snow. At home, I was accustomed to this, generally when walking to the school bus. However, my hometown has very few sidewalks, so I would rarely walk outside during the winter, opting to drive instead. Now, I hear this sound on my way to and from every class. It has become much more pervasive, and will be heard almost any time I leave my room. The other sound is the wind at the top of Mad River Glen, a ski area. I have skied every winter since I was two years old, and the top of a ski mountain is a very familiar sound to me. However, I no longer associate it with being on a ski vacation with my family or the high school ski trips. Rather, it is now a sound that I hear whenever I manage to catch the bus for a casual day on the mountain.

As Seth Horowitz would say, I “keep most sounds off [my] cognitive radar unless they might be of use as a signal” (4). It only took me a matter of months to assimilate them into “background noise.” The echo of the staircase and the crowds at Brennan’s once caught my attention. Now, I no longer notice them. An interesting point, though, is that I tend to notice often the sounds that have not changed since high school except in meaning. The wind at the top of Mad River Glen caught my ear not because it was new, but because it now lacked my family’s voices. My whole life did not change in the transition to college. Still, many of the more meaningful changes can be mapped out by their sounds.

 Works Cited

The Beatles. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Abbey Road Studios, 1967. CD.

Chion, Michael. “The Three Listening Modes.” The Sound Studies Reader. Jonathan Sterne. New York: Routledge, 2012. 48-53. Print.

Horowitz, Seth. “The Science and Art of Listening.” New York Times. 9 Nov 2012. Web.


Repeat or Replay

According to Karin Bijsterveld, quoting Doron K. Antrim, “‘the ear tends to follow’ the agreeable ‘regular tonal pulsations’ of music and ‘ to forget’ the irritating and fatiguing ‘regular pulsations’ of noise” (Bijsterveld 156).  The recordings included in my audiography, “Repetitions,” exemplify Bijsterveld’s idea that noise and chaos become musical and rhythmic when repeated in an orderly fashion.  The sounds I included in “Repetitions” are sounds that I hear repeated each day and have taken on the role of rhythmic background music to the dynamic aspects of my life.  I arranged these sounds in the order that I hear them each day.  “Repetitions” begins with the way I begin my day, with my morning shower, cycles through my routine of eating and attending class and running, and then ends back where it began in my dorm room.  Occasionally one sound is misplaced in the sequence, for example I eat at Harris/Millis later in the day or hop on my computer earlier, but usually such small shifts in the rhythm of my life do not change the way I define myself.  However, major shifts in the arrangement of these repetitive sounds alter my perceptions of myself, and often these major changes occur depending on my physical location and my age.

When initially establishing my rhythmic background, by coming to a new place or point in my life, I employ causal listening by “listening to a sound in order to gather information about its cause or source” (Chion 48).  Upon my arrival at UVM, I heard an electronic swish and thump, and I was forced to identify the cause of the sound as the hallway door being opened and closed.  Gradually, as I became more accustomed to the opening and closing noises of the door, I employed a form of semantic listening by listening for, “a code or language to interpret a message” (Chion 50).  Although, in listening to the door, I was not hearing the words that make up language, I was using semantic listening by identifying patterns in the way the door was opened to signify the meaning behind that act.  For example, if the door is opened for more than ten seconds before it shuts, there are probably multiple people entering the hallway, or if the door is opened very gruffly and quickly, it is possible that the person opening the door is in a hurry.  By identifying patterns and behavioral codes in the sounds of the door, I am using semantic listening to identify the motivations behind the person opening the door.  Throughout my college experience so far, I have first listened to all of my recorded sounds causally and then later listened semantically.

By entering the next stage of listening to my various rhythmic sounds, Schafer would claim that these sounds no longer capture my attention as they did when I was first employing causal listening because the sounds become a consistent part of my environment, and “things that can’t be generated or shut off with buttons or switches attract little attention in the modern world” (Schafer 38).  However, due to the consistent repetition of these sounds day after day, I have developed a relationship with the noises because they define me at this point in my life.  I may not listen to each of these sounds with focused attention every time I hear each noise, but because I listened intently to the sounds when I first encountered them I have “tune[d] [my] brain to the patterns of [my] environment” and will  quickly identify a change in any of my included recordings (Horowitz 2).

Like the factory workers Bijsterveld describes whose “cultural meanings of sounds largely explain the lack of [their] enthusiasm for hearing protection,” the way I identify with the sounds of my current situation at UVM explains how I feel about my surroundings and myself (Bijsterveld 163).  When I return home to Oregon this summer, I will need to redefine myself by the rhythmic noises of my everyday life in a new town and a new season.  However, right now in my life the ten tracks presented in “Repetitions” demonstrate my stability here at UVM.  “While unusual noises suggested mechanical faults” to the factory workers, and “familiar sounds were a comfort to both drivers and workers,” I find comfort in the familiar sounds I hear from the time I wake each morning, to the time my head hits the pillow (Bijsterveld 161).


Works Cited 

Bijsterveld, Karin. “Listening to Machines.” The Sound Studies Reader. Jonathan Sterne. New York: Routledge, 2012. 152-167. Print.

Chion, Michael. “The Three Listening Modes.” The Sound Studies Reader. Jonathan Sterne. New York: Routledge, 2012. 48-53. Print.

Horowitz, Seth. “The Science and Art of Listening.” New York Times. 9 Nov 2012. Web. .

Schafer, Murray. “Open Ears.” Thinking About Sound.

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.