Reimagining Landscapes With A Cacophony of Soundscapes

Photo by Michael Competielle

“The final question will be: is the soundscape of the world an indeterminate composition over which we have no control, or are we its composers and performers, responsible for giving it form and beauty?” 

― R. Murray Schafer, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World

As my writing exercise is winding down my experiences from the experiment has charged my creativity. The next 100 day series of challenges is moving into compositional sound recording with the added element of composing to an image and creating visual soundscapes.

The exploration of finding content in which to use to make a connection of our sense of sight and hearing is nothing new. From the days of theater or musicals through talkie films and modern-day media, sound to visuals has gelled together well. We have learned to feel a connection to a character’s emotions by using sounds of music to stage the scene as we are lured into the content.

Our minds can make connections to our emotions independently to our conscious thoughts bringing us to a place where we are immersed into the body of others, feeling what they are feeling. The spoken word isn’t required to toy with sadness or despair. Often a single reverberant piano note will bring us to a place where we feel pain and suffering.

There are many, many nouns for the act of looking — a glance, a glimpse, a peep — but there’s no noun for the act of listening. In general, we don’t think primarily about sound. So I have a different perspective on the world; I can construct soundscapes that have an effect on people, but they don’t know why. It’s a sort of subterfuge -Walter March

Hearing Emotion

The classical composers recognized by varying the connections of musical notes compositions could envoke emotion. By altering the individual notes in a phrase or chord, alters the feeling of the composition as our feelings are along for the ride. 

When we actively participate in focused listening we begin to hear the subtle nuances in sounds. Winds and rain have tonality that can paint a visual painting that takes us to that place. Rolling waves, babbling brooks to crashing waterfalls are all movements of water, however, they all have a unique audible sound that paints the picture. 

Whimsical sounds will place us in a happier mood unlike the dissonance felt from fingernails on a chalkboard. The subtle nuance of sounds of we listen closely is meditative and educational.

Intellectuals favor instrumental music as it will allow the imaginations under the wild as we define space and time. Our minds will listen for the clues and begin to develop a spatial perspective. 

Wind and leaves mean trees. A Forest? Moving water could identity a creek, stream or an ocean. The timber and intensity of the sounds become our clues. Crashing water could be oceans waves or a waterfall. 

As we listen to sounds intently we begin to spark our brain to make connections to the visual. Like an expressionist painter, we paint shapes and colors as we build the landscape from the elements of the soundscape. Our minds make the connection as we visualize the scene like reading brilliant literature. 

Author: mtcwriter

Michael Competielle is a Creative Designer specializing in Sound, Brand and Experiential Design.

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