Sound Off! // Comment Klatsch #16: Sound and Pleasure
klatsch \KLAHCH\ , noun: A casual gathering of people, esp. for refreshments and informal conversation [German Klatsch, from klatschen, to gossip, make a sharp noise, of imitative origin.] (Dictionary.com)
Dear Readers: Team SO! thought that we would warm up the dance floor for our upcoming Summer Series on Sound and Pleasure (peep the Call for Posts here. . .pitches are due by 4/15/14). —J. Stoever, Editor-in-Chief
What sounds give you pleasure and why?
Comment Klatsch logo courtesy of The Infatuated on Flickr.
voices give me pleasure. and, of course the voices of people I love even more so. the timbres of voices are not just endlessly fascinating, but gratifying and deeply touching. . .and for me, not just in a metaphoric way.
I always nod emphatically whenever my eyes graze the passage from Yvon Bonenfant’s “Queer Listening to Vocal Timbres” where he goes: “When I am teaching, l often ask: ‘Have you ever fallen in love with a voice …on the telephone …or at a party … or on the radio? Have you ever felt like touching someone romantically or sexually because of the quality of their voice? What makes up that quality? Why did your knees go weak on
hearing that voice?'” I say yes to each, every time.
I don’t have a timbre “type,” but rather I tend toward what I hear as “unique.” I don’t know how to quantify that. No one I have ever loved sounded remotely like the others, but each is unforgettable. . . conjurable, even ten, twenty years on. and now, just five months on, exquisitely painful too. unimaginably so.
I miss phone calls in the middle of the night, when my eyes open into darkness, reaching toward the material place where I imagine the voice to be–no matter how far–and its phone facsimile warms my ears, listening out for them, reaching in to pull their breath-touched and speech-shaped words close, breaching bodily boundaries without touch–or rather with a touch translated and enhanced by my desiring ears. I honestly don’t know how people fall in love without these calls.
Perhaps it is a mark of my generation to imagine each text I get in the voice of the person who sent it?
i once wrote a poem in high school that scandalized my 12th grade English class because everybody thought it was about masturbation. It was really about a phone call. Poorly written, I admit, and clearly my innuendo was too too, nothing like this one:
Your Little Voice
your little voice
Over the wires came leaping
and i felt suddenly
With the jostling and shouting of merry flowers
wee skipping high-heeled flames
courtesied before my eyes
or twinkling over to my side
with impertinently exquisite faces
floating hands were laid upon me
I was whirled and tossed into delicious dancing
with the pale important
stars and the Humorous
How i was crazy how i cried when i heard
and tide and death
Here’s a post I wrote awhile back about my grandmother’s voice. . .and hearing a lost recording of it after her death: https://soundstudiesblog.com/2009/09/15/the-grain-of-the-voice-or-the-contour-of-the-ear/
The sound of the forest, when you are the loudest thing around. Being shocked at just how loud your footsteps are. Stopping to hear the birds singing and recognizing that there are singing different songs. The sound of flowing water in the distance. And then a cool breeze passes and you can hear the motion of the leaves.
For my money there’s simply nothing better in the world.
For me, one of the sounds that gives me most pleasure is the sound of subways in New York City. It just makes me feel like I’m home. When I fly back to New York City and stay at my mother in law’s house, I love the sound of the subway cars driving past her apartment (the 4 line). I can hear in my head now: the slow roll of the cars pulling up to the station, the screech of brakes, the musical notes emerging from the screeches…I also understand that those people who live close to the subway tracks may not find those sounds as pleasant. For them it’s probably something that wakes them up at night, a blip in their daily soundscape.
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