My Journal



Indefinite Sound

“Without writing, words have no visual presence, even when the objects they represent are visual. They are sounds. …. [S]ound has a special relationship to time, unlike that of other fields registered by human sensation. Sound exists only when it is going out of existence.” (Orality and Literacy, 31-2).

Unlike a moving picture, which can be stopped on a single frame, one cannot stop sound and have sound. In most situations, pausing a moment in an audio recording produces silence, not in indefinitely sustained note. However, one could stop on a single note of music or a single syllable of speech, and extend that one moment of sound indefinitely. In this way, it is not so unlike a single visual frame; however, it is far less useful. Whereas with the visual frame, one can closely examine the image to see what is present, one really needs a span of sound, at least a second or two, to really examine much about it, such as the exact point at which a new sound was introduced.

If one were to take a video of an event, a still from that video has a certain value in that it shows who was there, how he or she looked, as well as the environmental setting. However, if one were to consider an audio recording of that event, a single extracted audio moment is really without worth and tells us nothing of the event, the speaker, the content, the context, etc. What is needed in this case is a clip, a few seconds or a quote to hold any real value. Yet, this is not freezing a single sound.

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