Songs I listened to while writing this:
Everything – Healy
Birds, Pt. 1 – Chassol
Morning Dew – Matt Quentin
“Everything has melody, that’s the crazy thing. It has some sort of melody; it may be dissonant at times. But everything has tone if it has energy.” – Healy, from “Everything”
As I sat in Dream on Monroe late Tuesday evening, reading these articles, I couldn’t help but be distracted by cheerful laughter from the bar, the high pitch ringings of the multiple electronic signs, the faint mumbling from two separate tv channels, the clanking of metal oven doors and draws slamming closed, “Everything” by Healy playing in the headphones I had playing into my right ear only, and the crunch of thin crust resonating through my skull. As I started the Murray Schafer paper, the silent sound of the words I read passing through my mind only added to the chaos of sounds I was attempting to intake all at once. This has been a resounding depiction of my life for the past several weeks, one seeking out silence and solitude in order to focus but surrounding myself with noise to drown out the true distraction, human voices.
Just a few months ago, all the work I was invested in led me to the backcountry of Yosemite National Park where I found a unique silence. More than anything, I found peace of mind in the chaotic soundscape of nature where little is predictably cued, yet all sounds seem familiar and expected. In this chaotic soundscape, I found the ability to focus. Chaos created clarity.
As I sat in Dream, I couldn’t help but notice a stark difference in the chaotic soundscape I found myself in. While the sum of all things was unpredictable, each aspect was rhythmic, harmonic, and repetitive. Laughs were every few seconds, the high pitch electronic humming was constant, the commentators were high paces and relentlessly rhythmic, cars passed at a droning beat, and the clock ticked by, reminding me of the seconds I was wasting trying to read in the midst of this predictable chaos. Everything that ran through my ears was man-made. There was no wind, no water running, no rockfall or melting ice, no sound of silence. It was then I realized both how easy it had become for me to rely on this chaotic soundscape to drown out so many other distractions, yet how hard this soundscape has made it for me to find clarity of mind beyond time I spend working.
The natural soundscape, the undisturbed way of life provides dissonant beauty. It is inherently unpredictable, yet if soothes so easily. It has been human nature to create rhythm, order, and predictability, not only in sound and music, but in all aspects of life. These developments have led us to stray from the beauty of chaos, as we are not inherently comfortable not having control and understanding of our future. If there is a need to tie this all back to climate change, that is the notion. We are making the climate trajectory predictable, structured, and rhythmic. We have chosen to sacrifice a dissonant melody for one that is clear, despite its unpleasantness.