Do you hear what I hear?

Something that struck me as worth discussing after our first MEDA101 tutorial, was distinguishing the difference between listening and hearing. Listening to Chris Watson’s interview “The Art of Listening” proposed the question that perhaps both terms are more different than originally thought.

Chris Watson “The Art of Listening”

To inspect their differences let’s break them apart and look closer at what they really mean.

  • Listening – When you listen, you are focused. You are deliberately aware of the sound you are trying to hear. Listening is to pay attention to the noise around you and  as such it should be treated differently to hearing.
  • Hearing – We are always, constantly, at every moment of the day, hearing. You hear everything, the background sounds that are always there that you no longer pay attention to. It could be the low hum of some technology, the chirp of insects in the distance or simply any sound you have come to ignore.

Take a moment to stop what you are doing and transgress from simply hearing to actually listening. How many sounds can you actually hear, what subtle yet constant noise is always littering the backgrounds of our everyday life?

Once you have done this, your appreciation of how sound truly impacts our everyday life becomes apparent. By understanding this, it is interesting to investigate how noise and background sound truly set the scene for our lives.

Listening to the ABC program “Rural – The Night Air” it is easier to hear an example of the power of sound.

Rural – The Night Air

Even in the very first few seconds of the program you are immersed in the environment the story is being told in. Cicadas fill your ears and the howling of animals instantly set this rural night time scene. Then moments later you are transported to another place, an office. There is the ringing of a phone, doors opening and closing and the background chatter of an office environment. Different voiceovers tell the story, but the places in which these stories are set is never described. Instead, the soundscape creates the world and as such, tells a story of its own.

Sound, noise and music each play an integral part of both our physical lives as well as in all manifestations of the media. It’s a constant, whether we are listening to it or not, and it creates our environment in ways we might not be even fully aware of.

Loud Noises

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