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994. Sound and Video

Sound Walk: Soundwalk 9:09

Note: This post is in response to Soundwalk 9:09 by John Luther Adams; which “takes its title from the time it takes to walk between The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Breuer: nine minutes and nine seconds. The composition, in two parts ‘Uptown’ and ‘Downtown’.”

As a former student of apparent local celebrity Dan Phiffer, I am familiar with soundwalks overall, and selected this one for two reasons:

  1. Because of its emphasis on mixing the sound in the walk with the sound in real-life: I mostly use headphones to block out the sound around me, not partially take it in. So this was a unique opportunity to experience the mix.
  2. Because of the deliberate timing of the walk. I wanted to see if I could walk faster or slower than the soundwalk would assume. (Spoiler: it ended up taking 9 minutes both ways)

Well, I was not expecting the noise to be that ambient. Trying to listen to two stereo soundtracks as once was honestly kind of exhausting, and I took a 20 minute break between listens to sit under the shared of some trees.

It was difficult to pick out the original source of the ambient sounds. Some sounds that I did pick up on: birds, the jingle of a dog’s collar, and water fountains.

Doing this dual-listening, I picked up especially frequently on passing conversations and the constant sound of motors coming and going. It made me realize the level of noise (/noise pollution) that we phase out every day in a city.

Imagine instead you are hanging out in a barn on the countryside. There are some chirping birds, maybe some buzzing bugs. You are able to hear a motor coming, the wheels rolling over gravel, and the squeak of breaks so clearly that when the motor cuts off, there is a deafening silence. Our environment frames the emotions that sounds make us feel; and in this case I was nearly overwhelmed.

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