A Sound Education, R. Murray Schafer. Exercise 1:
We begin with a simple exercise. WRITE DOWN ALL THE SOUNDS YOU HEAR. Take a few minutes to do this; then, if you are in a group, read all the lists out loud, noting differences.
Everyone will have a different list, for listening is very personal; and though some lists may be longer than others, all answers will be correct.
This simple exercise can be performed anywhere by anyone. It would be a good idea to try it several times in contrasting environments in order to get into the habit of listening.
How much time do you have to spend doing this? As little or as much as you want to or can afford to. Schafer doesn’t specify.
Suggestions for reflection and discussion:
- Think about your answers to the following questions: What is sound? How do you perceive it? Which sounds do you tend to naturally prioritize? Which sounds do you tend to naturally ignore?
- Schafer suggests (in exercises 2 and 3) categorizing your completed lists in various ways—for example, dividing the sounds into those produced by human(s), nature, and technology, or by designating the noises that you made yourself. He also suggests organizing them from loudest to softest or from most pleasant to least pleasant.
- Think of what aspects of your experience you’d like to compare and contrast with the experiences of others: your relative levels of sensitivity to sounds? which sounds you found most distracting? characteristics of the different environments in which you performed the exercise?
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