Online Class Discussion October 5th

On October 5th, we had an online meeting for Media Design class introducing sounds. Here are the following discussion questions were were asked to answer. Below are my responses to those discussion questions.

  1. In his text, Schafer refers to the concept of Schizophonia. What is it? Can you list some common contemporary examples?
  2. How can we interpret ‘natural silence’? Have you experienced it and where? And perhaps most importantly, for how long?
  3. What do you think about the structure of Hildegard Westerkamp’s “Nada Soundwall’ piece? How does it progress? What kind of sounds do we hear in it? Can you list some of them? What can those sounds tell us about the place? Name some specific examples with a time reference (for example, at 3:13 we hear… It suggests…)
  4. Under Outer Orientation Functions of Sound, Zettl lists a leitmotiv. What is it and can you provide an example from everyday life use of sound leitmotifs – in pop culture or your surroundings?
Sound Study
  1. Schizophrenia is defined in the text as referring to the split between an original sound and its electroacoustical transmission or reproduction. This term became relevant in the twentieth-century, when there were man-made sounds that split the noise we hear between nature and electric or industrial equipment. The manmade machinery and technology has made natural sounds become increasingly unnatural. The author believes that the manmade noises are providing operative signals directing modern life. He uses the example of the loudspeaker as being a schizophrenic sound. This equipment has created a synthetic soundscape of making the human voice travel louder and faster than naturally intended. The broadcasting of radio and television is also an example of how original sounds are transmitted electronically and reproduces the sounds for humans to hear all over the world.
  2. Natural silence is the absence of any sounds that are not part of nature and the Earth without distraction from humans, urban life, technology, transportation, etc. I have experienced natural silence when I was in the Himalayas in Tibet. I was camping with a group and at night, there was absolute silence. The relaxing noise of the breeze blowing across the grass, the sounds of streaming water, crickets chirping. No industrial noises. We were up at least 10,000 feet where civilization is far away. It was amazing to experience being in a place so far from civilization and truly feel one with nature. I heard it at night. When everyone in my group was asleep. We stayed in tents, so there would be movement of some of the campers from time-to-time. But the natural silence that I experienced usually lasted the entire night. I have to say, I have never slept better than I did when I was camping in the Himalayas. No distractions, just nature.
  3. Hildegard Westerkamp’s “Nada Soundwall” piece was very different than the Gordon Hempton’s “On the Search of Silence”. This was clearly recorded in a populated, urban environment. You can tell from the beginning that it is an urban environment with some rural aspects. You can hear the sound of cows and other animals. Some natural sounds can be heard such as the sound of the breeze, the noise of birds chirping, etc. However, much of this sound piece was distracting because of the many different noises happening simultaneously: humans talking, traffic noises, honking, cars and motorcycles, bikes, bells chiming, humans chanting or protesting, a flute playing, jet noise and helicopter noise (around the 3:00 minute point), the sound of someone on an intercom, TV or radio noise can be heard towards the end of the sound clip. You can hear night falling and music playing, people out socializing, chirps of crickets, echoes from the loudspeaker. The sounds of this clip tell us that this is an urban environment with all types of “schizophrenic” noises occurring throughout. The language that is spoken by the humans is a foreign language, implying this is not in the United States. Listening to this sound clip made me visualize a crowded city with poverty, religion, modern transportation, and music that is both live and transmitted over a radio. The time reference appears modern with the sounds of the traffic and transportation noises.
  4.  A leitmotiv is a short musical phrase or specific sound effect that portends the appearance of a person, an action, or a situation. He uses the example of the famous Pavlov dog experiment. In this experiment, the leitmotiv is the bell that caused Pavlov’s dog to salivate, “leading” an audience to expect a specific reoccurring phenomenon. I can think of a modern day example of a leitmotiv being used in horror films. When the music in the background of a horror film becomes eery sounding, the audience is to expect that there will be something scary happening in the near future. Another example is an alarm going off to wake you up in the morning. When the alarm goes off, it is expected that we are to get up at that time and get ready for the day. Whenever I hear the same noise that is used for my phone alarm in the morning, I automatically feel stressed by that unwelcome noise which wakes me up every morning, even if the noise is coming from somewhere else when I am awake during the day.
Jenn Lee

Web Designer, Digital Media Specialist

Graduate Student👩‍💻 | Digital Media Specialist | Georgia Bulldog Alum 🐾

Leave a Reply

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply