“I like to ask, ‘What’s the smallest sound I hear?'”
~ Jocelyn Frank
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In an upcoming conversation with Matt Cronin about the craft of creativity and finding the heuristics and algorithms — the simple rules — for getting something done, we explored the craft of curiosity as well. In putting this week’s episode together, I realized that’s what Jocelyn had offered: a simple rule for listening well.
What’s the smallest sound I hear right now?
What does it take for us to be aware enough of our environment to even begin to answer that question? So many layers. Are we listening for volume? Dynamic range? Duration? Emotional significance? In the same space, at the same moment, do you and I hear the same “smallest sound”?
And what if that sound is a human sound, a person’s voice? A statement, a question, a call for help? Untranslatable, indistinct, speaking volumes with its smallness?
When we are curious in the face of sound, we are intensely present in the moment. We can’t listen well without being all in on the process. Listening for one thing, we often hear others.
We hear things we don’t expect to hear.
There’s the value of choosing to be curious about the sounds around us: it can surprise us, reward us, reframe us. People’s lives unfolding. Birds’, too. Commerce and construction and the breeze passing through. We can’t help but wonder “where did that come from? where is it going? will I hear it again?”
Every place has its own sound. My home sounds different than yours. This town’s soundscape is different than that’s. Could you pick out your soundscape in a virtual auditory line up? What makes it unique?
What’s the thing you didn’t expect to hear?
Go ahead – listen well!
Thanks to Virginia Millington for permission to use her clip recorded at the Bicycling Empowerment Network in Namibia .
For more from Elliot Carter, listen to Ep. #48: Curious and Wondrous Travel
Jocelyn Frank photo credit: Kristian Whipple @kwhipplephoto kwhipple.com
Theme music by Sean Balick.