Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sound Imagery

We are in an age of reproduction, simulation, mass production, uniformity--you get the picture.

In terms of sensory aliveness, alertness, attentiveness this is a disaster.

For centuries humans have crafted art out of their surroundings, bringing to enhanced life the facts of life in which they live their ordinary daily lives.  One of the commonest references in music is to bells.  These have all but disappeared from the soundscape (a useful and truly relevant word).  No longer do we know when there is a wedding, a funeral, a feastday, or simply time to stop everything and say your prayers.  There are no church bells to herald such events, except for a very few countable exceptions in high tourist parts of Manhattan.  The neighbors tend to complain about church bells in residential parts of the city.

I am struck by the fact that the Muslims do have calls from their minarets...

The many references to bells in music thus are likely to go unobserved.  The post-USSR Eastern European will not notice bells because the Communists melted them down to make cannons.  The quoting of street cries and folk songs is all but gone as street cries and folk songs are obsolete.  The most characteristic noise of my surroundings is the automobile horn--immortalized in Gershwin's An American in Paris.  I am grateful for the little scissor-sharpener's truck that occasionally roams my neighborhood with its distinctive chime.