This diary is to train my awareness and guide my thinking in anticipation of World Listening Day 2013 (Thursday, July 18), a day of free activities at the Walker Art Center.

  • Wednesday, March 13, ~5:55 and 6:15 pmA young woman is singing to herself and her dog as they briskly walk. About 20 minutes later, our paths cross again. This time she's singing Billy Joel's "Piano Man."
  • Wednesday, March 13, ~6 pmWalking past a storm drain, the sound evidence of spring melt-off reverberates in the cavernous subterranean darkness. 
  • Friday, March 8, 11 amAn indoor sound, for a change: clickety-clacking keyboard, ricocheting. On Friday morning, I temporarily relocated my office, taking leave of my "reception desk-like workspace located in a carpeted hallway, and stationing myself a sparse white room. I was immediately struck by how different my keyboard sounded! I think this might demonstrate the term "keynote," a term used in soundscape studies which R. Murray Schafer defined as the sounds that are heard by a particular society continuously or frequently enough to form a background against which other sounds are perceived. Schafer also says that keynotes are not consciously perceived and tend to be a subject of consideration only after they change or are removed.
  • Sunday, February 3, 8:43 amThe bus stop, especially a solitary one, provides a prime opportunity to pause and listen. Just behind me, a wind chime performs an endless coda of improvised concatenations. The surprisingly calm morning affords a blank canvas for the chimes' tones and rhythms. A faint chirp-chattering brings me to notice a gang of English Sparrows, vying for perch at the bird feeder. Infrequently, motor rumble crescendos and decrescendos punctuate the soundscape. And finally (alas?), one of these crescendos brings the bus.
  • Tuesday, January 8, 7 pmCity bus as sound-capsule. Mechanical rattles and motor rumbles. A din of languages, dialects, and speech patterns. Phone conversations split in half, one side vocal and the other side left to speculation.
  • Wednesday, December 26, 7:10 amAmerican Crows. I'm still trying to sleep, but become aware of their vocalizations and the space it describes. And I'm aware of the fact that I'm listening, seeing them in my mind and guessing at how many more individuals fly silently ahead of or behind this noisy crew. (A week prior, one morning between 7:20 am and 7:40 am, I counted about 200 crows flying north-northwest.)
  • Saturday, December 22, 4:44 pmPileated Woodpecker overhead and then out of earshot. The high pitch micro-chirps of a Northern Cardinal. The sound of footsteps in snow that has not yet been agitated by tromping. It's only been subject to a very particular sequence of sublimation, melting, wind erosion, etc. (Theodore Wirth Park)
  • Friday, December 21, ~8:30 amThe sweet descending "dee-dee" song of a black-capped chickadee surprised me. Of course, come the time when winter yields to spring, this two-syllable refrain is common, but in December? I heard it sing twice before the intersection filled with traffic and the sound was washed away behind the noise. (Bryant Avenue at 50th St, awaiting a bus)

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