Humming. Whirring. A steady burr. Background sounds. Rumbling. Sound carries. The sound of vehicles before they come into view.
As I look at the page to write, almost every sound is acousmatic, other than the sound of my pen on the page; the sound of my breath, slowing; the paper in friction with my clothes.
Everything else heard but unseen.
I look up. Yet without my glasses so many sounds feel acousmatic. I cannot tell the source from which the sounds are made. I strain to ‘see’ but cannot discern a clear origin. I ‘know’ that the origin of the sound is a bird, yet have no evidence as such to corroborate this.
Sounds that ‘now’ are outside my visual range, whose source or origin I cannot see – as I attend to the writing on this page.
A motorbike revs.
Birdsong, chirping, like a blinking eye.
A crow caws or maybe it was a gull’s cry.
Sounds continuous – traffic, chatter (close and far away).
The water fountain, constant trickle.
Birdsong, shrill, insistent.
A slow mumble as if from beneath.
A car beeps.
Still, how do I know? I name the sound, the sound’s origin, but without seeing its source. All these assumptions and guesswork and judgements made from an accumulation of experiences past and remembered sounds.
I close my eyes and try to forget all knowledge of sounds’ origins, try to forget what sounds belong to what source. I close my eyes to just listen. But why the need to close my eyes, for it is not even that I can see the source of sound. Yet even though I cannot ‘see’ – still the open eyes somehow call me towards recognition, towards identification, towards giving things a name.
Or maybe it is that I lack a language for acousmatic sound, for sounds stripped clean of source, dislocated from all originary sense of cause.
Pure sound. Sounds with no history or associations. What language might emerge for invoking such sounds, these sounds with no known originary cause or source.
Not so much without cause, but cause unseen, source hidden or veiled.
Veiling of naming.
A veiled name.
Lack of a sonic language.
A language where there is no agency making the sounding, only the sounding, no cause of sound only sound itself.
Pure sound, pure temporal unfolding.
What language with which to name.
No naming though, for pure sound is in motion, never solidifying into name, for names can often thing, and sound is no thing, nothing.
Attending to the all - a meshwork of manifold sounds. No, no ‘sounds’ for this plural already splits off sound into recognisable parts or separable units.
Only sound, only sound.
In its thickness, thinness, density, sparsity, intensity. Qualities, atmospheres. Sound as a moment unfolding. Registers of movements, of multi-dimensional soundings. Sound as a moving, fluxing, stretching shape or even texture, like a blanket or a fabric or a feeling of a thickened air.
A sonic language, that names only qualities. Crescendo and fermata, risings and dippings, and stilling in the sounding. Yet language seems unfit for such description, or at least my language which lacks the capacity for such nuance, the specific turns of phrase.
I imagine the sound described instead through drawing, through diagramming. Or as sharp pin pricks of bright light, piercing. A ground of dense, dull, ashy, powdery ground. A circling, circuitous line, moving this way and that, ricocheting back and forth, bouncing off one thing then another. This line, that line – entangled, over and over, the one running over the other, one cutting across another, the one picking up the dropped lined of the other and starting over in a different direction.
Am I looking for some system of notation, some way of translating this immaterial, unnameable experience into a form, which I can then further usher into language, or rather something to then let language be led by. A mediating system of lines and dashes and smears and blurs and erasures and scrapes and dustings. Dotting lines and thick streaks.
A visual language unfolds in my imagination now, which I then try to follow into words. Yet in the mediation, I sense the growing distance between words and that which I am seeking to describe. A gap, a spacing, a chasm of inarticulacy. I cannot find a way of connecting without the mediation of the image world.
Sounds stay somehow imperceptible, or rather undescribable, as pure sound. Either they become recognised too quickly, traced back to their source and named; or else, I stumble, and fail to find the adequate words. I imagine now that maybe punctuation alone might be a way of giving an un-language to the un-languable. A marking system of exclamations, indecision, of ellipses, and of sounds sharp, tapering away or of pause.
,,,,,,,,, ‘’’’ ,,,, ‘’’’’’’’ ,, ‘’ // ,,,
,, // ~~~~~~~~~~ ‘’’’’’’’’’’’’’~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ???? ‘’’’ ,,,,’’’’ ~~~~~~~~~~~
No, I would need multiple lines in the one line, almost like a stave, or a way of registering the overlappings and layers. For even the line of writing forces the sounds into some linear sequencing, and I cannot capture the multiple synchronous unfolding.