Monday, September 19, 2011


There are two motorcycles that zip past Broadway, the main street of where I live.  Everyone looks.  This was probably done intentionally to draw everyone's attention since the motorcyclists know Broadway is where a lot of people work or hang out in the neighborhood.  A yellow school bus stops and opens its doors.  The children that exit are talkative and excited.  This excitement adds to the noisy and boisterous quality of my neighborhood.  A teenage kid dribbles his basketball.  It attacks the pavement with a bouncy sound.  An ice cream truck passes by playing its catchy tune.  The melody is playful and engages your attention very quickly.  A car zooms by blasting Spanish merengue music.  This is representative of the Latin culture in my neighborhood.  In the song, there are loud horns and the rhythm of the horns is very soulful, but celebratory.  A few cars try to honk their way out of a busy intersection.  After one car does it, then another honks.  It's a persistent, invasive sound.  There's a couple in an argument.  The man hushes the woman not to yell.  She talks even louder.  Juxtaposing the cars honking and this couple in an argument with the ice cream truck's playful tune, it's indicative of the neighborhood.  It's a very busy, confrontational place.  It lost its innocence a long time ago.  A police car's sirens go off.  Some people turn to look and talk about the police car.  The police add to the tension and uneasiness of my surroundings.  When it's calm, the sirens abruptly wake you.  A business-type man talks on his phone.  He's completely tuned in to his conversation.  It seems like he's not aware of the business of the neighborhood.  It's interesting to see a person not caught up in the  chaotic sounds of the neighborhood, but into their own world.
After careful review of what I heard, these sounds represent a cultural place with richness in activities, but also a place where a person from the countryside will probably be uncomfortable.  The sounds were invasive, like the police sirens and the cars honking and the couple arguing.  The chatter of the kids and the ice cream truck are sounds that perhaps represent innocence, but it can belie the neighborhood.  Beneath the surface, it can be a dangerous place and the police sirens and the couple arguing suggest that.  This assignment really opened me up in terms of not just observing things but listening to people and objects around me.  I learned how sounds can tell a story.  You don't have to always look at things to get a story.  You can close your eyes and depend on the sounds to get a story from it.  Sound is an underrated aspect of the film medium and I've learned to appreciate and work on telling a better story using sound.