The Importance of Sound
Hearing can soothe and comfort.The snapping of logs in the fireplace,the gossipy whisper of a broom,the inquisitive wheeze of a drawer opening —all are savored sounds that make us feel at home.In a well-loved home,every chair produced a different,recognizable creak,every window a different click, groan or squeak.
The kitchen by itself is a source of many pleasing sounds.Every place, every event has a sound dimension.The sense of hearing can perhaps be restored to modern man if he better understands its worth and how it works.Most people would be surprised to discover how far the sense can be pushed by cultivation.At a friend’s house recently,my wife opened her purse and some coins spilled out,one after another, onto the floor.“Three quarters, two dimes,a nickel and three pennies,”said our host as he came in from the next room.
And as an afterthought:“One of the quarters is silver.”He was right, down to the last penny.“How did you do it?” we asked.“Try it yourself.” he said.We did, and with a little practice we found it easy.Curiously, evidence indicates that people need sound.When we are lost in thought,we involuntarily drum with our fingers or tap with a pencil —a reminder that we are still surrounded by a world outside ourselves.
Just cutting down reflected sound can produce some odd results.The nearest thing on earth to the silence of outer space,for example, is the “anechoic chamber”at the Bell Telephone Laboratories in Burray Hills, N.J.,which is lined with material that absorbs 99.98% of all reflected sound.Men who have remained in the room for more than an hour report that they feel nervous and out of touch with reality.