Sound is a beautiful thing. It has the power to articulate much which would otherwise be left as a passing thought, to turn a space into a place and to fill a soul with deeper feelings, more complex than any other. Sound can warm and sound can heal, it can threaten, frighten and shatter. Sound is a memory bank, an anchor, a tie to connect one to another. It is functional and enjoyable, thoughtful but sometimes tactless, calming and occasionally abrupt. And sound is everywhere, and everything has a sound, and things that you think don’t- well they do to, as the absence of sound is really the sound of silence.
Sounds are an important part of a family, they breath life into a space and without them a house isn’t a home. The more I reflect on it, the stronger my strokes become as I allow my mind to swim into every room of the home I grew up in. At almost 100 years old, the ceilings were double the height of the regular. There were fireplaces tall enough to walk upright into, and by the front steps sat a Bird of Paradise plant, that always looked at me with piercing black beaded eyes as I entered through the art deco steel-framed front door.
The soundtrack of my childhood, played in this ancient castle, was the bubbling of the fish tank behind the TV, and the sound of the glass lid scraping across the top to feed the fish inside. The rumbling Tarago coming down the gravel driveway, the screen door swinging on its rusty hinges and the scary sounds of the wind outside that I always thought was a ghost coming to haunt me in my sleep. A mosquito in the night, panning from ear to ear like a complex puzzle that you can’t solve, the water running through the pipes and halting with a deep chug when the tap was turned off. The wish-washy sounds of our matching red polyester netball skirts as we bopped along to Abba, gripping hairbrush microphones and doing lots of entirely unnecessary jumping. My Mum’s deafening, high-pitched sneezes and my sister’s creaking bed as she flopped into it at night, in the room next to mine.
Like the way you can teach your eyes to focus in and out- firstly on the glass of a window, then straight through that window to what lies behind, and back in on the glass, ears have the capacity for games too. You just need to train them a little, every day- to recognise the sounds that exist in your home. You could call it audio awareness, if a term need be coined.
A month ago I moved out and then in- to a house of my own, for the very first time. After hours of unpacking, I stood back to gauge the atmosphere. My lamp was emitting warm light under the cupboard, and it smelt like vanilla essence as a candle I was gifted burnt slowly on the table. My senses were being pampered, but something made it feel incomplete. Realising what was missing, I danced over to my open laptop, pressing play on the first song I could find. The sweet and delicate sounds of Led Zeppelin’s Going to California trickled from the speakers and crept into my new house, turning it into a home. My fridge hummed softly along and the breeze carried my curtains up and dropped them back down, gently but rhythmically. What sounded like cutlery being dropped in an apartment across from mine added a flourish of variety, and the speeds of the cars passing below determined the dynamics. My household had created a musical masterpiece, that only my ears could hear, and there is something about that exclusivity that I really love.