Soundscapes Over Time

July 18th is World Listening Day, a yearly global event organized by the World Listening Project. This year’s Future Listening theme was created by Filipino sound artist Teresa Barrozo. The theme calls for reimagining a personal and universal future through listening. Participants are encouraged to examine their hopes, dreams, ambitions and fears for the future and reflect listening questions. Here are my answers about my changing soundscapes over time.

What does your past sound like? Shattering, screaming, yelling,purring, barking, wind, birds, screeching tires, screeching tinnitus, test tones, supersonic, voices, pop music, laughing.

What does your present sound like? Wind, water, birds, voices, purring, barking, screeching, hissing, buzzing, laughing, Wimbledon, PGA golf, NFL football, metal music.

Which sounds do you wish to retain? Soft, pets, voices, nature, laughter, music.

Which sounds do you wish never to hear again? One-sided cell phone conversation, tires screeching, my mother’s voice, scrape of metal knife and fork on plate, spit sunflower seed shells, crunchy chewing, paper ripping, teeth sucking, acoustic reflex test tones.

Which sounds do you consider as toxic waste? Airplanes, balloon pops, fireworks, horns, leaf blowers, engines, back-up beeps, piped-in music, angry shouting.

How does silence and noise sound in your future? I hope noise pollution is softer. Less construction, airplane, traffic, railroad, transit noise. More quiet spaces and places. More moderate communication. A future where quiet sound is the norm. If my tinnitus is ever cured, then silence might return to my life. After more than 30 years, I can’t imagine what that would sound like.

Which sounds have gone silent? High pitched sounds. I don’t hear the littlest birds chirp. I don’t hear alarms on my phone or around the house. It’s really hard to make out high pitched consonant sounds, so I often mix up what people are saying. Last time I played ‘I Spy’, they said, “What’s something starting with the letter f.” “Sky?” I guessed.

Can you still hear? I have mild hearing loss in quiet, and moderate communication problems in noisy listening environments. I can still hear, but not as well as I used to, since I accidentally wrecked my hearing using vape juice with PG in it. I didn’t know it was ototoxic.

Think about how you’d answer these questions. What would your future listening sound like?

For more activities and events, check out this year’s Wednesday July 18th  World Listening Day. 

Events around the world include measuring sound in communities, city soundwalks, and more.

Photo by Slava Bowman on Unsplash

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