Exercise – Listening – Create a New Soundtrack

You can do this exercise any time because you only need your ears. 

Find the most silent place you can. Listen. Make notes of what you can hear. 

Try this in a variety of places. Can you identify the sound of silence?

Every night before I go to sleep I listen to the mediation app HeadSpace and one of the things it always says is to listen to the sounds around you. As I do it at night it’s actually quite challenging as there isn’t that much sound. Therefore it is the most silent place I can find. Occasionally I hear

  • Sounds of distance traffic. Low rumbling.
  • Rain pattering on the conservatory roof. Sharp. Striking.
  • My own breathing. Deep – relaxed
  • Occasional breeze ruffling up the trees branches
  • An owl’s song to the night
  • Natural ambience of the house – buzzing

I went to a quiet nature reserve

  • Traffic from the nearby road
  • Ping of my phone (next time turn it off)
  • Wind through the trees rising in volume.
  • Bird song
  • Trickle of the river, a liquid sound
  • Crackle of undergrowth

In the Bluebell woods

  • People talking
  • Wind
  • Jangle of keys
  • Bird song
  • Feet crunching through the undergrowth

By the Lake

  • Doors slamming and opening
  • Wind through the trees
  • Bird song
  • Traffic
  • Seagulls crying
  • People talking
  • Children laughing

Sat in the lounge now I can hear

  • Distant thrum of traffic
  • Sister on the phone
  • Bird song
  • Ticking of the clock
  • People shouting in the distance
  • Mum scrubbing floors
  • Doors opening and shutting

My art teacher once told me that nothing is ever white, there’s always a pale shade of something over it and the same seems appropriate for sound. Nothing is ever silent it would seem. You feel something is silent but when you listen you realise it really isn’t. Even in the quietest parts of the house there is always some buzzing ambience. And even when reduced to utter silence there is always the sound of your breathing, your heartbeat, blood through your ears. This is something I’m really interested in and when I’ve finished this exercise I will investigate into the Sound of Silence.

Look back at your sequence from Project Two. Identity all the items that make a sound 

Try to think in an objective way about the quality of each sound. Dissociate it from the objects that made it. Listen carefully to each item. Make notes on the sound it produces. What quality do the sounds have?

  • Bird song
  • Natural ambience
  • Distant traffic
  • Foot going down in puddle
  • Resounding splash
  • Wind
  • Heavy footfalls
  • Washing machine
  • Doorbell
  • Harsh breathing
  • Creak of floorboard
  • Shuffle of woman moving
  • Knock of the door
  • Gasp
  • Letter box opening
  • Gasp
  • Heavy breathing
  • Birds singing
  • Man speaking
  • Breathing
  • Footsteps
  • Door opening
  • Bang of saucepan on head.

Try and describe each sound with a 

  • Flavour
  • Colour
  • Emotion
  • Physical texture
  • Anything else that comes to mind

Flavour – flavour instantly brings to mind food and takes in the two senses, taste and smell . Teeth sinking into a cherry tomato, crunch of crisps, sausages sizzling in a pan.

Colour (very challenging) – a balloon (notorious for bright colours) being blown up, a log fire, crackling conjures up images of warmth and red flames

Emotion – The ice cream van jingle, conjures up emotions of happiness and childhood. Haunting songs in a minor key evoke sadness. In James Bond the whir of the electric knife almost used as a weapon, fear. Screaming connotations of pain.

Physical texture. Crunch of pebbles to show someones walking on them, cheese being grated, fingers of keyboard, crinkle of paper, hiss of iron, sawing of logs, crunching of undergrowth.

 

 


It was fascinating this exercise hearing how many sounds are around us. I often use music in my videos and this has made me open my mind to the possibility of sound around us to include in the video. I saw a video on Youtube where the young film maker says how important it is to film absolute silence for a period of time to add it in as a background ambience.

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