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#141286 - 03/23/05 03:12 PM Silence
Zed Offline

Registered: 08/27/02
Posts: 2154
Loc: British Columbia, Canada
If you haven't already, do check out the extra quote under today's word.
When was the last time you encountered silence? In the city even if you find or make a quiet spot there is always noise behind the quiet. In the country you can sense the quiet behind the noise.
My parents used live on an island and some nights you could feel the silence laying over you like an extra quilt.

#141287 - 03/23/05 05:36 PM Re: Silence
musick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/24/00
Posts: 2661
Loc: Chicago
In the city even if you find or make a quiet spot there is always noise behind the quiet. In the country you can sense the quiet behind the noise.

I suppose this hinges on one's intent: To hear things out of context? or to hear the context within them? ...since silence itself cannot be *heard.


I search the night for silences. Although living on a busy street in a large city doesn't offer much, I do have nightly impasses where the industrial corridor in which I reside is void of traffic, and I can occasionally hear the low rumble or roar of the expressway almost a mile away, but tucked in between buildings as I am does offer me some snipets of silence.


A perspective has been forged from my years of listening, performing, composing and hearing music that the busier the music gets the more my ears seek silence... so as music finds a balance between the space used and the space allowed, so do my anticipations (or even anxieties, I suppose) resolve. This is what I transpose to words when I say "less is more".

#141288 - 03/24/05 10:28 AM Re: Silence
belligerentyouth Offline
old hand

Registered: 12/20/00
Posts: 1055
Loc: Berlin
No doubt there is truth in the AWAD quote - I wouldn't worry too much though - silence approaches - its hush penumbras back over time and is deafening!

"There is no such thing as empty space or empty time. There is always something to hear or something to see. In fact, try as we might to make a silence, we cannot. For certain engineering purposes, it is desirable to have as silent a situation as possible. Such a room is called an anechoic chamber, its walls made of special materials, a room without echoes. I entered one at Harvard University... and heard two sounds, one a high and one a low. When I described them to the engineer in charge, he informed me that the high one was my nervous system and the low one was my blood circulation."

- John Cage, Silence

#141289 - 03/24/05 06:34 PM Re: The Sound of Silence
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
I remember a time, time back way back, when I had heard practically no live music for about two years. I was in a state-of-the-art peformance space with a string quartet way down there on the stage. I was listening as hard as I could (with the aid of a certain music appreciation enhancement medium) but something was missing. I kept listening (and I didn't have my high F# overlaying the general experience) and I finally managed to detect the sound of an air-conditioner somewhere in the building and realised that what I was missing was the sound of recorded surface noise.

#141290 - 03/24/05 10:21 PM Re: The Sound of Silence
inselpeter Offline

Registered: 03/14/01
Posts: 2379
Loc: New York City
"recorded surface noise"

Strange, but that is lovely.

#141291 - 03/27/05 09:41 PM Re: Silence
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11613
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Wow, what a poetic thread, already:
>>>"...you could feel the silence laying over you like an extra quilt."<<<
>>>"silence approaches - its hush penumbras back over time and is deafening! "<<< *

since silence itself cannot be *heard. No, but it can be listened to.

Interesting, about never being able to be in truly total silence. That made me think of those sensory-deprivation experiments; not something I'd care to try.
Sometimes, outdoors very early on a winter morning, I can't hear anything other than the noise I am making; no traffic, no train or planes in the distance; no wind; and above all it has to be a season where there are few birds; at least not in the abundance that warm weather brings. I have been outdoors at night when it was quiet enough to hear the wind whiffling through the owl's feathers as she flew past my head. And most nights this winter I've heard one (at least) calling in the distance.

*How I wish, sometimes, that parts of my past would fall silent...

#141292 - 03/28/05 06:08 AM
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803

#141293 - 03/28/05 10:34 AM Re:
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
silence is unknown in NYC.

but early in the morning after a heavy snow fall, there is something close to it.. the snow dampens distant sounds-- every neighborhood a highway or major thru street within a few blocks--so traffic is always there as constant--but snow reduces traffic, and dampens the sound of what is left.

and small close sounds, like footfalls go away too.

but we city dwellers do not 'close our ears'or miss small sounds just because of a constant background of noise--a quick fun experiment can be done with $3 to 4 --drop a penny, (on a busy street) and most will ignore the sound.. but drop a US quarter on concrete--not a very big sound, but passers by will hear it, and look for the quarter..

(this experiment was done by a scientist from Mus. of Natural History--and reported about..a naturalist heard a cricket on columbus avenue-- (and pointed out that no one else seems to here it..) but his companion, a anthropologist, pointed out, in NYC a cricket wasn't an important noise.. and the clink of quarter on concrete was.. and NYer would hear that small noise (over the noise of cars, and buses, distant sirens, footfall, boomboxes..etc) and he was right.

silence isn't natural.-not is cities or elsewhere..
but close listening can be practiced. (i have made a point at times to listen for crickets..--and have heard them and i have found beautiful little mushrooms (growning in planters, with evergreens, outside trump tower on 5th avenue)
and last weeks the NY times had a wonderful article about practicing listening to others coversations when in public..(close your eyes and feign indifference.. but take in every word.. its a fun hobby!)

my other obsession

#141294 - 03/29/05 09:10 PM Re: Silence and Solitude
BraveLad Offline

Registered: 03/29/05
Posts: 31
Loc: California
True silence is unknown state except perhaps to the profoundly deaf. But solitude is possible, though rare. I experienced it once and once only. I didn't recognize it at first, then, suddenly I knew I was truly alone.

I was walking on a beach on Kodiak Island. I had asked for a jeep ride the two miles down to the beach from the satellite tracking station, where I and my compadres were tending a sick bird (satellite).

I looked around and noticed at last what I did not hear, what I did NOT see--that is, any sign of Man. No wisp of smoke, no gum wrappers, no beer bottles, no power lines, no distant susurrus of traffic, NOTHING that spoke of Man or any of his effects.

What provoked this epiphany was the sight of a fellow being--a fox, who paused, seeing me at the same time I saw him. He just stood there head cocked to one side, muzzle uplifted. We continued in companionable silence, each staring at the other, until my furry fellow resumed his steady gait, going from the beach inland.

It was then I saw more than just scenery--beach, sand, rocks, trees, ocean, sky, clouds. For the first time in my life I saw that I was truly ALONE. All the support and comfort of fellow humans was gone. No cry for help or company would be heard. All the support that I unconsciously so relied on--GONE!

And then I had another realization. This was KODIAK ISLAND, home of the justly famous and fierce Kodiak Bear! Grisly bears don't need much provocation to attack humans. One such would be quite another matter than a fox, who in this context was my approximate equal, unarmed as I was. Unarmed for the moment that is. Like a good ape, I immediately got myself a stout 'walking stick' that would have been less than useless against any opponent as formidable as a bear of any variety, but sufficient to put me one up in any tussle with an aggressive, lone canine.

I walked briskly the two miles back to the lonely, high tech human outpost. I was greatly relieved to see the little plume of smoke and steam and hear the low thump of its generators. That was my WILDERNESS EXPERIENCE.

Markham Robinson,
CEO MasterPlan Financial Software

#141295 - 03/30/05 09:28 PM Re: Silence and Solitude
belMarduk Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/28/00
Posts: 2891
I know exactly what you felt like Markham.

Every autumn, my Dad and I go hunting in northern Québec. "In the middle of nowhere" is a good description of where we head.

There is one path we travel that separates about two kilometres into the woods. I love to take the southern path because about a kilometre in, there is a plateau of bare stones. I feel awed in this open space in the middle of dense forest.

It may be nice to go back to civilisation, but I do enjoy this yearly retreat.

Is this an outing you’d repeat?

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