Monday, January 7, 2013


Meditation has been a large part of my life, especially in my yoga practice; so listening is something that I am very familiar with. I have different types of mediation that I practice, one type involves concentrating on every sound in my environment and identifying what it is, what it is doing, and how it relates to the other sounds around it. Another type of mediation that I practice is the exact opposite; shutting out all distractions, including exterior sounds and then focusing completely on myself. This includes listening to my breathing and my blood flow while shutting out any stray thoughts. In addition, I have a type of mediation where I tune out every external sound including sounds that are my own, and I focus on listening to my thoughts and their process. Each of these three types of mediation gives me insight on many different things, but they all revolve around listening, not just hearing, but listening.

When we did the first assignment in class, it was not a new process to me to focus on sounds and identify all that I could hear. I really enjoyed doing this and I knew that for me personally, the best results would be from an outside environment. The possibilities that can be heard outside, especially on a college campus, have a great range and cover a wide variety of sounds. When I put the sound clips together, I did it as a story unfolding in a cold industrial setting, hence the title of the sound clip. First the truck arrives, crates are unloaded from it, it pulls away; snow crunching footsteps approach, pass, and a sneeze is heard; a chainsaw starts, is used and is shut off, all the while traffic continues in the background accompanied be the cold winter wind. Step by step events, when put together creates an environment, that by most people who hear this sort of environment often would be familiar enough to identify it by a sound clip.

Music is just a sequence of sounds placed together in an aesthetic composition. For the second part of the assignment, I found that creating a musical sound clip not entirely a difficult concept. Adding a constant beat and a few rhythmic sounds or repeating sounds, I was able to create an aesthetic composition or music piece with the sound of my cold industrial environment that I created.

I find that listening is a very useful and even interesting experience. In my personal experience, I find that good relationships with others are based on trust and communication; and the best way for both of those ideals to work are by true active listening on both persons’ roles. Also, I find that I learn about myself when I listen to myself. I learn to understand why I have certain habits that I do, why I like something more than I do something else, and even where my place is in my life. Not even where I am in my own life but how I fall into place in the world is something that I have found through the practice of listening.

Sometimes I find myself lost in thought, thinking about my busy schedule and I am somehow pulled from my thoughts by another person who happens to be passing me in a hallway or at the next table over eating their lunch while working on their computer. I take a moment and think about that other person and how they have just as much as a life and family and ambitions as I do. I listen to what they are doing, I think about the similar daily activities they might be doing at that moment and how I do them too, the sounds they are making, munching on their sandwich or the clicking of keys on a laptop. I find it to be a very humbling feeling; just knowing that I can hear little bits of a complete stranger’s life. Knowing that though they may be sitting in the same room as me, their world is far away from mine and I don’t really matter in their life web of events, even though some of our actions are so similar, yet some so very different. Listening can open worlds for you.

Listening is a verb, it is more than just hearing sound. Hearing is an action that most humans do instinctively, mostly as an innate survival technique, but it is a passive action. Listening is actively using one’s mind to understand and comprehend what is happening. Listening makes differences.

Cold Industrial (2013)
Meghan O'Bryan
1:30.10 minutes

This audio piece depicts a winter industrial environment through a mesh of individual sounds found in Final Cut X. This invented environment is based on a real existing environment that was observed and was later recreated by memory and minimal notes.

Cold Industrial Music (2013)
Meghan O'Bryan
0:59.53 minutes

This audio piece is based off of the audio piece, Cold Industrial. The sounds that were used in Cold Industrial were rearranged to create a cold industrial "musical" piece.

Later Comments from me on the project:

When going into the second part of the project I thought that it would be fairly easy, just add some rhythm and a nice beat. When I was composing, if you stretch to that word, it most certainly was not as I had pictured in my mind, though I didn't think it sounded like noise exactly, just a very poorly written piece of music. Now again when I listen to it, I feel that it sounds more like noise then it did to begin with. I feel that this may be because when I originally put it together I was very familiar with the individual sounds because of the activity that we did; now that there has been some time between then and now, I hear less of the individual sounds and more of the whole. I think this is important to keep in mind, that when I am creating sound for a video I need to give myself time away from it, just as a painter needs to step away from their canvas and look at it from afar, from a different angle.