Wednesday, August 30, 2006

An Introduction to A Field Guide for Sound Symphonies

Without disclosing too much, one of my new projects involves writing a piece about sound, what it means to hear -- or not hear – and how this effects language. One thing that interests me is how we can hear many noises simultaneously. Right now, for example. I hear a plane, a car, the kids upstairs, and my own boy chatting about gold and whales. Then, living in New York, there is an omnipresent “white noise” in the background. My ear can choose to separate these things, or bunch them together. What a miracle it is for the brain to process all this.

There are noises that are very comforting to me (trains in Oregon and garbage boats in New York) because they signify where I am and allow me to feel rested. Upon falling asleep or waking, I am deaf. I have heard that this also happens in animals.

One thing that is interesting to me is the question of whether profoundly deaf people can read English. I recently read that, as all human babies develop language beginning with babbling, deaf babies babble with their hands. I have always thought that deaf people COULD NOT read English because ASL is not English. Nor is it a written language to my knowledge.

1 comment:

steve evans said...

You probably already know about this, but I found Jean-François Augoyard and Henry Torque's volume "Sonic Experience: A Guide to Everyday Sounds" an excellent aid to reflection on this topic. The English translation was published by McGill-Queen's UP just last year.