‘Write a music review for the sounds of your life – your personal, everyday soundtrack.’
So it kicks off with an angry, blaring alarm. It’s a jerky start to things, shocking the listener into focus. This repeats several more times throughout the next hour, interspersed with the slow, quiet ticking of a clock. A sound that could be irritating to some at first, but quickly becomes part of the backgrounds. That initial loud, aggressive sound gives way to a much quieter period, interrupted only by the sounds of daily routine. The bathroom tap running. The kettle boiling. The rustle of the bed being made and clothes being put on. The clink of the spoon on the bowl, and the crunch of cereal.
Then, these quiet, natural sounds, are suddenly replaced by artificial sounds, chosen consciously by the listener. Some days it’s music
, some days it’s an audiobook. Either way, it serves to block out the outside sounds of the world – though some still filter through, as traffic whizzes by or cyclists ding their bells. But it creates a bubble, an internal headspace to forget reality for a time.
The sounds change again as the headphones are removed, replaced by the chatter of the crowds
. Dozens of voices, dozens of languages, a cacophony of talking. Amidst them all, two voices will take precedence, the ones most familiar to the listener, providing a focal point. They flip between languages, juxtaposing the known and understood, with a foreign tongue that the listener only vaguely grasps, though it is easily recognisable after all this time. These voices are quickly replaced though by the listener’s own. It sounds rather self centred, listening to oneself talk for a lengthy period of time, only occasionally broken up by new, unfamiliar voices of others, and with the continual traffic and chatter of crowds in the background. This period is focussed and certain, a sequence that would be new to others, but which the listener has repeated over and over again
. It’s both dull in its repetitiveness, but comfortable in its certainty. This is the chorus, the sounds and words so easily committed to memory.
The headphones return again for the walk home, and on some days, their music can continue all afternoon. On others, it fades back to silence, with only those everyday sounds. The clock ticking, the kettle boiling, teeth munching food. This tells us of the listener’s mood, whether they need to focus, perhaps if they are tired or fed up, or if they are relaxed and carefree. The constant though is the tap tap tap of the keyboard, coming and going with each new thought, each new sentence, and silenced between while thinking. Sometimes it will stop for a while and be replaced by different artificial sounds, as a video plays. Sometimes the doorbell rings, or there are voices in the flat, or footsteps in the hallway or stairwell. This is the time when the unknown may occur, like a verse between the choruses.
Then the cycle from earlier repeats, returning us to a familiar refrain. The headphones. The familiar voices. The background noises. The listener’s own voice. The headphones again. The listener tells a different story this time though, but still a well-known one, still one that has been repeated time and time again. The voice is animated, trying to capture emotions and engage with others, trying to weave a tale into the world. The background sounds are also quieter this time, as the rest of the world is winding down for the day, and the streets are less busy.
Variation returns again at home. Sometimes it’s quiet again, just those little sounds present. And sometimes it’s loud and lively, full of talking and laughing, and all the domestic sounds of multiple people living together, as they cook and catch up on their days. Neither option is necessarily better than the other, it depends on moods again. Sometimes the quiet is needed to refresh and relax, while other times it can be lonely after quietness earlier. Sometimes the loudness brings joy and energy and fun to close the day, while other times it can be irritating and tiring. The day ends with video sounds once more, before the constant ticking of the clock brings it to a close.
No two days are exactly the same, neither in sounds nor in emotions. Sounds that can be frustrating or annoying one day, can then be enjoyable and pleasurable the next. Some days are louder than others, some days are quieter. The repeated choruses and the familiar voices bring stability, focus, comfort, and contentment. The variations between bring excitement, newness, curiosity, and fun. All sides are represented, creating dynamics and contrasts every day.