As a writer, this exercise revived my intention to use sound as a storytelling avenue, be it fiction, or non fiction.
The sound walk in a sense was fiction, juxtaposed over a real life moment.
My trip in sound had several layers that I'd like to add to this essay.
Although I wanted to commence my journey alone, to enjoy the sounds of the water, the boat, the buzzing of people, strangers; but in my mind friends for the moment... . I needed a companion, someone who could let my thoughts be mine. And so my sister agreed, which turned out to be of great help because this was indeed a physical feat for me.
Back to the soundwalk...
My sister and I consider ourselves somewhat empathic. We believe that sometimes we pick up on people's emotions, and this in itself has a sound. A silent noise that cuts into the sounds in our heads. Because of this we attract sensitive strangers, who just need an ear to air some intellectual discussion that apparently, they feel we should listen to.
I will get back to this later in this prose.
For me sound is also an emotion. What comes first depends on if it is a natural sound, such as the splashing of water against the ferry, or if it is man made, such as a recorded tune.
The properties of sound, I believe for everyone especially a producer, has an emotional response of some sort.
The quiet sounds of my bus ride, a low hum, brrrum, brrrrreum..., in what could have been calming, turned into a lively conversation with a sweet elderly woman, wanting my sister and I to vote for her son-in-law.
It was almost midday, and we were going to catch the ferry at noon. We felt and heard the buzz of anticipation of the tourists, eager to ride the ferry and get a glimpse of the Statute of Liberty.
A woman begins to sing gospel music over a microphone, with influences of soul and jazz.
...Smiles from strangers, and quiet conversations, like the flutter of birds at dusk, then the announcement over the microphone, to board the ferry.
As the anticipation of the crowd naturally increased, the sounds were the shuffling of the feet of over a hundred people, rushing to the boat before the gate closed. We were the last two to shuffle in...
I put on my headphones and began the walk.The droning sound of the boat accompanied me all through this journey. As the reader played out the characters, indeed it felt true to life to the people on the boat.
It brought a sense of entertainment, to see these "friends" anew and get a glimpse into what their lives could be.
In reality, what a few years ago would have been the sounds of so many cameras clicking away for the sake of selfies and group photos, was the subtle swoosh of elbow, after elbow, being raised to take a picture with a cell phone.
The constant pause in the shuffle, as we all stop to allow one picture after another to be taken with out us ruining the scene.
Then the constant "Thank you," Thank you," gratitude to strangers, for making their moment sealed in time.
The boat's loud engine noise drenched the sounds of the water waves that I really wanted to hear. To make matters worse, the loud sound while docking was like a hammer, pounding against steel. (Listen to docking clip below.)
I learned that sound is indeed relative. Any moment can be transformed into another experience, just by changing the sound elements in the scene or environment. That is powerful.
Though exhausted, I was greatfull for the experience, and the awakening it brought to how I should and will engage with sound.