I have to admit that I’m not a super huge fan of listening to stories. Whether it’s an audiobook, a podcast, or a radio drama/story like “Moon Graffiti,” I have a really hard time actually listening to what’s going on. I get distracted very easily and then end up thinking of completely different things in my head; basically I tune out what I can’t see. I’ve been thinking long and hard about why I can’t stay enthralled with purely auditory stories, and I have a theory. As a very nervous and high-strung person, I like to see what’s coming at me. If I can see something, it’s much less jarring because I’m already thinking about it. When I listened to “Moon Graffiti,” I was just incredibly anxious the whole time because I couldn’t see what was coming next. (I’m a scaredy cat y’all, I don’t like jump scares or thrillers or horror movies.) I don’t like not knowing where we’re going. That being said, I can appreciate how intricate it is to create a story using only sound.

I may not enjoy podcasts or radio shows, but I do thoroughly enjoy listening to music. There’s so much to find and perceive in the human voice, as well as music itself. Jad Abumrad talked about how the power of the human voice makes us feel more connected. We can hear so much context in the sound of someone’s voice; in their volume, tone, and pronunciation. I like the way that sounds evoke extremely specific emotions and feelings that create narratives in our heads. I think that familiarity with sounds is really important in how effectively they communicate.

With this kind of sound example, we are all familiar with the sound of being underwater. That creates an image that we all know. Once other sounds are layered on top of that basic familiar sound though, our emotions can shift. In this video, there is peaceful/hopeful/calming music, so it is very nice and comforting. If there were scary noises, or perhaps the Jaws theme playing with the sound of being under water, we might have the reaction of fear or anxiety instead.

Speaking of unsettling noises that are familiar, but completely horrifying, here’s this:

We all immediately know what’s going on and can feel the anxiety surrounding the sound. Sounds can really keep you on edge! There are sounds that get this type of recognition for each of us too, like I know that the sound of a cardboard box being shredded means that my cat wants me to open a door, or the slam of my porch door means that there’s a person at my house. I think there’s a lot to be appreciated about sound because it holds so much power!

I’m looking forward to exploring the power of sound this week; I guess you will be hearing from me soon!

— RM

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