Listen Closely

In class this week, we were given a worksheet that consisted of boxes to fill in. We were asked to go outside of the classroom and walk around our large campus filled with many different environments. The sheet suggested we go to a quiet and woodsy area, a busy, pedestrian filled area, and other areas that would allow us to experience different sights and sounds. Our task was to ignore the sights; close our eyes and open our ears.
I first walked out onto the big open main part of campus which we call the drillfield at Virginia Tech. Here, I listened for the sound that people made as they went on their way to class, passed Frisbees on the lawn… the sound of feet hitting the ground and cars and buses driving around; their brakes screeching as they paused for pedestrians. I then walked to a pond/wooded area we call the “Duck Pond”. I expected it to be much quieter here, however, there were people talking amongst one another, little children running around chasing the ducks, the sound of people running and heavily breathing, and many other man-made noises. I sat underneath a willow tree and tried to concentrate on the sounds that were coming from the earth. I heard the wind breezily flowing through the soft leaves of the willow tree, the soft splashes of frogs jumping in and out of the water, the rhythmic singing of the birds, and the rain gently tapping the pond as it fell. I then made my way to Main St., a busier part of Blacksburg, where noises were louder and more constant. Car horns beeping, doors opening and closing, wind-chimes clinging together, and so on.
I had never realized just how many different sounds could be heard around campus and how each sound is so significant to its place. When we close our eyes and open our ears, it helps us understand the context of a situation and the complexity and rhythms that we normally wouldn’t notice. This was an important experiment that can be related to music very easily. A lot of the time, we can hear music without actually listening to every detail that is put into making a song sound the way it does. If you listen carefully to a song, you would be able to hear consistency and rhythm in the drum beats or the strumming, you could hear the contrast of high-pitched and low-pitched instruments, and how all of these things are tediously intertwined to make beautiful music. I encourage you to listen to the song below, maybe even a couple times, and listen… really listen to every note, chord, every sound that comes from the music. What do you hear? Did you hear anything the second time that you missed the first time?

One thought on “Listen Closely”

  1. I enjoyed listening to this video with your words guiding my thoughts… this exercise, as your post points out challenges to think about how we hear and the spaces where we hear. Further, does it matter that we hear something through the radio, versus vinyl, versus live? Beautiful reflection.

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