In Paper #2, based on The Soundscape by R. Murray Schafer, and the article How A.S.M.R Became a Sensation, I will be writing about how sounds play a significant role in today’s lifestyle, such as noise pollution, and how people are rediscovering the sounds that have disappeared into the city soundscape. While I find many A.S.M.R sounds unpleasant, I do agree that A.S.M.R sounds can be therapeutic that can improve our mental well-being by giving a feeling of euphoria. These reproduced sounds and raw sounds of nature are essential for us to be in a state of harmony in the world we live in.
In The Soundscape and A.S.M.R article, both emphasize wanted sounds that can help enhance our life if we listen carefully. Schafer also claims that “the ear is also an erotic orifice,” likewise people who find triggers in A.S.M.R sounds experience pleasurable sensations. Despite both focusing on listening carefully to desired sounds, Schafer expresses concern over rising levels of noise pollution and how we must find a way to eliminate unwanted sounds. On the other hand, A.S.M.R gives us escape from noises by reproducing the sounds in its natural form to give raw sound experience. The importance of these two articles focuses on what really triggers us when we intently listen to sounds around us and how it changes our behaviors. As more different sounds are added to city soundscape, many people are beginning to seek the sound we had forgotten to listen to.
Krukowski is referring to the old-fashioned way of listening to music and how people used to discover new artists or songs by going to record stores where they could get recommendation from people who have knowledge about music and have strong opinions, or through magazines like Forced exposure. He describes how the digital world is affecting the way people find and listen to music. Throughout this podcast ” Ways of Hearing: Power,” Krukowski explains how powerful corporations have gained control over what we are exposed to.
Although the world is heading toward making everything digital, Krukowski questions the benefit. He wonders if preserving the traditional way of finding music or how we consume things could contribute more toward art and society itself by giving power and control back to consumers who can decide without any influence of big corporations.
Spotify, Pandora and other music streaming services are powerful, and use an algorithm to predict what music we might like. Everything is automatic, arranged, and is impersonal. However, marginalized music allows us to explore our interest by having to navigate as we walk in the record store, we can browse records physically, can surprise ourselves by finding something new. The music we pick becomes personal and spontaneous.
Krukowski admits how he likes going to a record store as he might “discover” something by chance or gain knowledge about music from the people who work there. Now that we get recommendations from Spotify, and other music streaming services, it introduces us to new artists or songs that do not “surprise” us since the music we hear is “similar” to what we are used to listening to. Due to the algorithm, it becomes a loop where we are constantly exposed to familiar music rather than “discovering” different music. When we go to a physical store, we make our own choice and independent decisions. We could end up discovering different music and surprise ourselves.
In Forced Exposure magazine, they are more passionate about music and listen to every song on an album before recommending it to their consumers. They carefully categorize the type of music and write in detail about every album. They leave it up to their consumers what kind of music they might like, but also recommend songs that they think are worth listening to. Based on the album information, music lovers can decide what they want to listen to. On the other hand, Spotify automatically arranges everything for us without us even participating in it. Their algorithm predicts what song we might like based on data, not on an individual listening to and recommending songs.
In “Living with Music,” Ralph Ellison describes how living in his NYC apartment building made him appreciate music. Before he rediscovered his love for music, he was living with noise that came from every side of his apartment walls, especially the singer on the floor above him. He found escape from unwanted noise by playing radio and eventually leading to buying a speaker system. After he moved away to a new apartment, he then realized how interesting that neighborhood was. He was thankful to the old environment and the singer for making him find one of the most gratifying aspects of living – music.
“In those days it was either live with music or die with noise.” He meant that we either die being annoyed and angry over the noise that we cannot control, or we make our peace with the noise by finding our own escape by listening to music.
In Ways of Hearing, Damon Krukowski mentions that with modern technology people have found limitless options to block noise and create their own private bubbles. Similarly, in Ellison’s essay, he experimented with modern technologies to block the noise and listen to the desired sound.
We “hear” sounds or noises that come from the environment we live in, sounds that we take in but we usually ignore. Meanwhile, “listening” is paying attention to sounds and try to understand and make sense of it. We can make choices about what we listen to. John Cage, for example, in the Ways of Hearing podcast, gave a reason to why he keeps his window open next to the busiest street. Noises from the street are loud, but he chooses to listen to every sound that comes from the street to feel connected. Whereas some people on the same street could be blocking those sounds by putting on their headphones and only listening to what they want to listen to. Race, gender, or social class does inform how we listen. For example, gentrification by rich people or companies taking over certain areas or huge spaces can lead to noise restrictions. Because of that it drives more people to further areas which results in more traffic and people, and longer commutes also mean more noise. There are other structural elements that affect our listening experiences, such as religion and technology. Schafer mentions that in some parts of the world “the aural sense still tends to predominate.” As for technology, since the 1920’s the level of sounds and different kind of sounds have increased due to constructions, vehicles, trains which resulted in with the start of decibels and lobbying for quiet space laws. Now with our modern technology, we have earbuds and limitless options for listening.
According to Schafer, people have learned to ignore unwanted sounds and expresses his concern over rising levels of noise pollution. He suggests how we must find a way to decide what sound we want to preserve and what sound we must eliminate. He also mentions that we can learn how sound can change people’s behavior and can help us understand social conditions and tell us more about the evolution of society. However, Krowski talks about how people have created their own private bubbles by disconnecting themselves from the sounds of our environment. For instance, headphones take us to a different mind space. People have found ways to reduce reverberation with different techniques and create their own private bubble to hear the desired sound.
Berger states that media would only use depictions of blacks as victims to get their white readers’ attention since images of violence draw more attention than people marching peacefully to fight for their rights. However, I would argue that this is not the only way to get people’s attention toward a cause when situations are turned into chaos. What happened to all those people in the photographs? If we can stand to see those images, we can also stand to hear their voices.
In Ways of Seeing episode 4, John Berger exhibits how publicity makes an impact on consumers with images. People are surrounded by advertisements, and inevitably our subconscious is manipulated. As consumers we think of those images, and it leads to desire for things. It is significant as we desire the life shown in glamorous images. There is no end to accumulating enough to live up to the perfect life they depict. These advertisements try to convince consumers to buy more to be rich when the fact is it can only make them poorer by spending money to chase the lifestyle that is out of touch with reality.
Berger’s argument about these differences is important as oil paints were made for the person who is depicted, it shows his real lifestyles, the art manifested his wealth and possessions. Whereas in publicity pictures, it’s more of an illusion. It encourages people to buy stuff and have more possessions to change their life. To acquire those possessions people worked hard to make money only to buy things under the pretense that it makes their life glamorous. Publicity uses people’s insecurity and fear to sell products with the promise of making them desirable. Advertisements take inspiration from oil paintings, depicting wealth, and produce illusory images of utopia to sell the idea to people. As Berger flips through the pages of a magazine, it reveals how publicity is disconnected with reality when the images show extreme contrast of the two worlds between pages (the world of poverty and the other world of abundance of supply). The publicity images overpower the images of reality that “appeal to the public conscience.” Unfortunately, the world of advertising maneuvers its consumers towards the direction of unlimited consumption of stuff and yet still far away from the perfect world they promise.
A dream could be “Do you want to experience the feeling of royalty? Get royal treatment at our Hotel XYZ.” The imagery might display a red carpet at the entrance of a hotel, staff waiting in line to be at your service, a picture of room in Victorian era style, silver tea set on the coffee table with fine China cups, bathtub filled with water decorated with fresh rose petals.
In Ways of Seeing John Berger shows images of nude women in Renaissance paintings and examines how women were represented at that time. Berger stated that women were judged and objectified by men during that time. Comparing that era to today’s time, many things have changed, and so has the attitude of women and men. Although it is still partially true that women are still objectified, women have become more aware of this reality and fight against the notion of how they should be. Women today are often represented as more independent and freer. There are women presented in media platforms to get men’s attention for selling products or for other business purposes, but there are also many other platforms which defy the idea of women being vulnerable and as subservient as Renaissance oil paintings depicted. Berger also mentions that women’s images were made to appeal men’s sexuality, however, today women’s images are not solely to appeal to men’s sexuality but to represent who they are and their own self-expression.
Writers can improve their writing with different techniques. One of them is by using the model of “entering the conversation.” In this technique, writers observe and listen more to what others have to say before putting forward their own ideas so that they can present their arguments or their ideas in context to what others are saying. It also helps writers make their statement stronger by supporting their argument based on evidence or what “they say.” This way readers can understand all aspects of the topic and the reasoning the writer presents.
I believe that learning to look at artwork helps us to evaluate other situations. It improves the way we see things around us if we pay attention to every little detail to find meaning. It compels us to think and question what lies in front of us and try to understand the situation. It can open new dimensions we may usually overlook and help us to comprehend better. We can implement this skill in our daily lives to get a deeper understanding of everything around us and be more aware and develop our analytical skills.
My name is Rinzin Wangmo. This is my first year in LaGuardia, and my major is LPN (Licensed Nurse Practitioner). The reason for choosing this field is because it gives me immense joy to be able to help people. I enjoy being out in nature, trying new recipes since I find cooking/baking therapeutic, traveling, and doing yoga. I like reading fiction (suspense and thriller) and non-fiction (self-help books). Even though I write in my journal occasionally, I want to make it a habit to write every day. I am excited and looking forward to learning new things in this class.