Anthrophony & Biophony of a Day in Westwood

This week made me consider noise and how my world is constructed around noise in a way I never had before. I've given some thought to how noise is used in movies and TV: a pounding heartbeat in medical dramas to amp up the tension, ominous minor-key music in thrillers. A recent horror movie I watched, Muted, in which the protagonist is deaf and to highlight how this impacted their experiences in the movie most of the movie was silent, made me especially conscious of how noise or the lack of noise impacts life and interactions. While that movie made me consider the lack of noise, this lecture was akin to the other side of the coin: how noise is construed and what types of noise really make up my life. 

The Bernie Krause video was super inspiring to me, and I particularly love the way that he categorized noise into three types. Geophony, being the noises created by natural elements of the earth. These noises I heavily associate with memories: rushing rivers, the breeze on a spring day, the crackling of a fire. Then there is Biophony, the noises of all the organisms in a single place at a single time. Finally, Anthrophony is the chorus of all noises human-related. I pondered for a while if humans talking would fall under biophony or anthrophony, because I don't like it when we as humans separate ourselves from the natural world and other species, but also anthrophony (the latin root 'anthro') implies human-centric, so it would make sense that and and all human noise fall under anthrophony. I eventually concluded that I would place human noise under both categories, both anthroponic and biophonic. 

This got me to thinking about the geophony and biophony and anthrophony that makes up my life, and how it changes over the course of the day. So I decided to put it to the test, and recorded two minutes of sounds sitting on a ledge right outside my apartment: one in the morning, when UCLA students were just starting to go about their days, and one late at night. A disclaimer that the audio quality was a little rough and doesn't capture the sounds in as much definition as would be ideal, but if you listen closely there's still a lot of different sounds that illustrate the scene.

Sitting outside in the morning and listening to the sounds of the day made me excited to start my day. Birds chirped, the breeze rustled through the hedge that lines my apartment building, and construction alarms blared. I could hear a quick snippet of laughter or someone's conversation every so often, footsteps in an apartment with the window open, cars driving in the distance. With the sounds of the morning and the sun on my face I felt excited to start the day. I don't know how audible it is in the recording, but near the very end of my recording you can hear me gasp. I was trying to remain as silent as possible to keep my noises out of the recording, but felt something suddenly brush up against my leg when I wasn't expecting it. Our neighbor's cat, Luna, had silently come up to greet me. Here's a picture of the sneaky cat herself:

The nighttime recording made me even more aware that I'm very much a night person. I felt tranquil and happy as the crickets (or cicadas? I'm not sure which night insect chirps in LA but I love it a lot) chirped their chorus, I could hear strains of music from parties around my block, and the sounds of everyone slowing down with their days, preparing for sleep. I heard some random sounds as well that somehow didn't detract from the calm: the joyous yell of a party-goer, a chorus of people singing happy birthday, the whir of a helicopter flying overhead to Reagan.  

One of my main takeaways from this is that I want to sit outside more and listen to life. It's a pretty awesome experience.