Ralph Ellison in “Living with Music” shares his living experiences in his New York City apartment. He details his surroundings and what he hears—music playing from the neighbors being so loud and belligerent drunks. Ralph explains how living near a courtyard and a bar, Ralph can listen to everything. At first, he was annoyed and couldn’t focus on his writing until hearing the music he heard from his neighbors started to motivate him to play the instrument again, creating his own sound.
Ralph Ellison states, “In those days, it was either live with music or die with noise,” which means having to choose between two sounds. Listen to your surroundings and complain or block annoying sounds with the music you create or find.
The episode “Ways of Hearing” talks about the sounds of New York City and where you are at can impact your ability to hear. In “Living with Music” the sounds from Ralph’s surroundings help him understand music.