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.