Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sounds from CP

For this assignment I decided to stroll over to one of my favourite spaces in the city, Central Park. I walked over to Sheep Meadow only to find it was closed for maintenance so I parked myself on a bench with my back to Sheep Meadow across from Tavern on the Green.

I closed my eyes and immediately my ears focused on sounds from the road in front: roller blades and bicycles whizzing by, depending on the speed the varying pitch and particularly with the bicycles the gears creating variations of rapid clicking. How the timbre would change as they grew nearer and farther, panning from my right ear to my left. I could hear the sound of runners as their shoes scuffed the pavement and I could hear how gritty the ground was. Similarly, the wheels on strollers going by scraping the sidewalk. I could tune in on horse drawn carriages getting closer with resonant clip clopping of the hooves and the occasional kissing sound a driver made to guide the horse. I could make out faint hissy music coming from a car stereo and hearing that the source was stationary for a bit, I assumed it was stopped waiting for the light to change.

I was fascinated with the sounds I picked up from people walking by. Keys and change jangling in pockets, rustling of plastic and shopping bags they were carrying, the kind of footwear they were wearing, whether they were high heels and dress shoes clopping and scuffing or flip flops flapping against the bare heel. I could hear pant legs from heavier fabrics (most likely denims) brushing against each other. There were bright sounds of dog tags jingling as dog owners walked their dogs.

Multiple sources of chatter in various languages and various colors of tone, the boisterous laughter coming from park employees as they drove by in their carts. Across the road I could make out clinking of glasses and plates from Tavern on the Green, perhaps they were setting up for lunch service or for some private outdoor function.

All around I could hear various birds chirping and singing, and the faint sound of leaves rustling in the wind. There were occasional plane and helicopter noises above and I wondered if the flight patterns were altered in any way because of 9/11. I could hear high pitched sirens and honking heard in the far distance. The general traffic from outside the park created a low rumble that almost sounded like waves at the beach.

I knew it was time to leave when I heard something land by my feet with a bright tapping – I opened my eyes to find an acorn cap which must have fallen from the oak tree above. I’m sure this sound, as many of the others I mentioned, would have been taken for granted otherwise but by focusing on listening I was amazed at the sounds I was able to pick out.

As I was walking back towards Columbus Circle, I noticed a loop of sound that was created as I walked. With each step as my bag bounced against my thigh, my keys in the side pocket jangled in a consistent pattern. As I focused my ears to it, I could hear it created three distinct pitches, almost like a triad in arpeggio and the rhythm and varying frequency started to sound like the chorus melody line from “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” (The carousel was playing the tune earlier and perhaps my ears were channeling it.) Once my ears were tuned to that as an anchor, all other sounds around seemed to accompany and fill around it.

No comments: