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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sounds that touch my heart

Do you have favorite sounds? I don't mean human voices, music in the usual sense, animal, or natural sounds but rather non-musical sounds of human design. Here are the ones that come to my mind.

  • The wind chimes on our back porch. Perhaps Gail remembers how we acquired them; I don't. They've been out there for 20 years, maybe longer. The soft sound beneath the bedroom window is comforting late at night and early in the morning… a familiar sound of solace and peace, a gentle reassurance that life goes on.
  • The theme song of the Yamanote train, the hour-long loop around central Tokyo. Whenever the train stops at a station, the theme song plays. It's about ten seconds, and I've heard it hundreds of times —  each bringing a smile to my face. I'm grateful for my chances to travel the world.
  • The pouring of water into a font before Baptism. Perhaps you the reader are not religious, but to me the sound of splashing, circling water triggers reflections about who I am, why I'm here, what I'm good for, and what happens next.
  • The creaking of the moving sidewalks in Terminal 3, Heathrow Airport in London. I've been to London so many times that it seems like my second home. The creaking is distinctive and, in its peculiar way, shouts Welcome. Terminal 3 was built in the early 1960s. Within 10 years it will be replaced, they say. I can't argue with the rationale for that, but I'll be sad because the new terminal won't have those creaks.
  • The horn that blows loudly when the Carolina Hurricanes score a goal in Raleigh. One of the more memorable moments in my life was attending Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in 2006. Most sports fans go their entire lives without ever seeing a final Game 7 in baseball, basketball, or hockey. I've got that t-shirt and the horn reminds me of it.
  • Morse code that goes "-.-. --.-", known as "CQ" which an amateur radio operator (ham) like myself sends when he or she wants to converse with anyone anywhere who hears the call. It's an invitation to make a new friend.
  • The Windows 95 start-up sound. Don't remember it? Play it here. Windows 95 was ground-breaking in several respects, among them its inclusion of Internet support (technically the TCP/IP protocol stack) and multimedia support. When I booted Windows 95 the first time after installing it, out came herald of truly a new age of computing that has changed our lives in so many ways. The difference between Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 was as large as the difference between punched cards and online computer terminals.
  • Locomotive horns. They're not all alike! Some are blats, others are dissonant chords, still others are pleasant chords. They vary in keys, both major and minor (when they're properly tuned, that is). Motion is good.
What are yours?