I love sound, be it the sound of laughter, singing, electronics, Foley (the art of creating/adding aural detail to films), instrumental music, the human voice …
So I love to listen to podcasts that explore the world of sound.
There’s one I listen to regularly. I mentioned it in one of my blogs awhile ago (Thoughts on the Music of English). It’s called Twenty Thousand Hertz. You can find it on ITunes.
The reason I love it is because it delves deep into the world of sounds that bombard us every day from gaming, computers, cartoons, slot machines, cars. From the people speaking around us, to us, at us … on podcasts, TV, radio, the internet. The list keeps going. I love it.
In honour of Halloween likely, the most recent episode talks about the history of the “theramin,” the electronic instrument you play without touching it. It’s the instrument that put the “scary” into scary music, but has led another life beyond horror movies.
Why do I mention this podcast? Because it’s a great tool for listening practice. In the same way that I always tell clients they have to learn to “listen” differently, listening to this wonderful series trains the ear to listen in a different way.
You see, the show is about the sounds we take for granted – that we don’t even think about – in the same way that we often take “speaking” for granted. We hear without really listening.
Sometimes we let sounds wash over us, passing “in one ear and out the other.” Sometimes, they evoke strong emotions.
We live sounds in “broad strokes.” We may ignore them completely or be aware only that they make us “feel” one way or another: soothing or annoying. But we never really take the time to get to know them.
Twenty Thousand Hertz calls itself “A podcast revealing the stories behind the world’s most recognizable and interesting sounds.” And that’s what’s so amazing. How many times have you wondered about what you’re hearing: the bleeps and “cheeps” that your computer makes when you turn it on or notifications arrive; emergency alert sounds; Siri’s voice; the short music that introduces current event shows.
How many times have you thought about their “why,” their “how,” their origins, their evolution, their composition, their distinct qualities? When you become curious and start to listen to them closely, when you start to think about them in a different way, your listening skills can change and your awareness deepen.
Each episode is also beautifully produced. The quality of the audio is outstanding. The host and executive producer is Dallas Taylor, an award-winning sound designer and sound mixer.
I urge coaches and clients/students alike to listen to this wonderful series Twenty Thousand Hertz. You get to hear a clear articulate speaking voice in the host, perfect sound quality, fascinating subject matter, new vocabulary and stories that will make you aware of your sonic surroundings like a baby discovering sounds for the first time.
Oh, by the way, if you’re wondering what “twenty thousand hertz means,” it’s the highest pitch (sound waves) that human babies can hear.
And, of course, don’t forget to check out One-Minute Words on The Canadian Pronunciation Coach YouTube channel.