Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Five Favorite... Sounds

Writing about noises? I thought I would be a fun challenge, to make you hear what I hear, through your eyes seeing my words on a page and translating them into the auditory section of your brain. I love music, but formal music is not what I'm talking about. I'm thinking about sounds I hear, at random, on purpose, artificial, natural, sounds that make me feel happy or well-fed, that make me feel a little bit of longing or yearning, or that just make me feel peaceful. If it's possible, I'll come back later and add sound clips!

1. Paper
I love the sound of paper folding and crackling. Not all kinds of paper. Printer paper is sort of tinny and boring, and so is lined paper torn off a legal or steno pad. But big, thick handmade paper that is a creamy white is so inviting. I pick up one of the feathery edges and feel the rougher texture on one side, the screen texture on the other. I'm going to fold it in half, and so I bring the edge over evenly, briskly to line it up with the opposite edge. It pops out a low, rolling sound, almost like the boing! of a saw blade bending. As my fingers slowly smooth the crease, I hear a soft, sliding sound, that is to my ears like the feel of fine beach sand on my fingers. I watched a video of a man creating a life-sized origami elephant out of a single sheet of paper. Some of it is speeded up to show the process, but about two minutes into it, you can hear some of the paper noises, big low-pitched folding paper sounds that make waves of soft, muffled pops.

The other paper I like to hear is food paper. You know the kind I'm talking about. Those shiny crackly sheets they wrap Taco Bell food and drive-in hamburgers in. One side is plain, the other printed. When you get your food, it is wrapped up like a little present. Sometimes I look closer at the paper, because I'm sure that it is double layered, with airpockets in between that are popping as the paper is unfolded, bent back, slid around the food behind the part I have exposed for eating. The paper merrily crinkles and crackles all the while I eat, giving up a final imploding whoosh as I crumple the empty wrapper and throw it away.

Did you know that people make videos of themselves manipulating paper? And that people watch these? Google "soft relaxing sounds of paper folding."

2. Bells
I think my first fascination with bells came when I picked a little book off the library shelves all about bells. I had been reading a book that mentioned change ringing, and I wanted to know more about it. According to Wikipedia, "Change ringing is the art of ringing a set of tuned bells in a series of mathematical patterns called "changes"." The protagonist in the story would go out with his fellows to the church to practice their moves.
If you want to see this in action, here is a link.
I learned a little big about how bells are made, and how there is a special alloy called bell metal, or bell bronze. I understood about the overtones, after I read that section, and then listened carefully to the next bell I rang. The bells I like to hear are big. They ring like a freight train getting started, not like the sports car of a little handheld one. When pull the clapper over to the inside curve of the bell at Fort Ross, the vibrations begin to move the great mass of metal. Slowly at first, and then as the molecules move in rhythm and vibrate, a rising whoooOOOOOMMmmm! moves the air all around my head.
You think you can name the note of a bell, but the overtones, sometimes harmonizing, sometimes clashing in a particular bell, make its tune as  complex as a fine Belgian ale.
I got my very own bell, a USN Ship's bell for Christmas one year and hung it under my porch awning. There is summoned folks to eat or answer a telephone call. It is not a melodic bell, it is clangy, has a rough obnoxious sound. It's purpose is to get attention. Hey! Look over here! It is not made of rich, melodic bell metal. It is iron. But that's ok. I am very fond of it. It has its own job, and it makes me feel good to ring it.

3. School Children at Recess

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