This blog post about recognizing the sounds of waves on the beach reminded me of something I have been meaning to talk about lately: the difficulty of verbalizing and describing sounds.
hearing-ear person") he knew what I was asking right away and explained it was the sound of the lid of the truck box in the bed of the truck bouncing slightly as we drove.
It is only recently that I have learned, for example, to describe sounds like an air conditioner or a refrigerator as "humming." To me they do not sound like they are humming. Humming to me has a peculiar quality that almost feels ticklish, even when somebody else hums, which is absent from machines like air conditioners. I am listening to something or another "hum" right now and to me it sounds like a constant stream of sound but broken up sort of randomly. It's a sort of vibrating sound that seems a bit jumpy to me. I might even have said a few years ago that it was "beeping." I tend to describe a lot of sounds as "beeping" because it seems like sometimes I hear sounds sporadically even though most people would hear them completely fluid and connected.
Music is another one for me. I usually can't pick out individual instruments in a song except for the drums. Saxophones and pianos are the next easiest, but after that, it's all one fluid jumble to me. I remember watching a documentary on music on PBS a little while ago. To demonstrate the universal qualities behind music, they had people in a remote village somewhere listen to certain music (without words) and then identify the mood of the piece. I played along and got things terribly wrong. If it was supposed to be spooky I thought it was funny. If it was supposed to be somber I thought it was majestic. If it was supposed to be happy I thought it was depressing. Now that's just sad. If it weren't for singers and lyrics I'd be totally lost as to what most songs are about.
So much in life relies on sound and everyone takes it for granted. Even hard of hearing/deaf people can take the sounds they do hear for granted sometimes - I know I do. Even if it requires a little extra work, I am happy for the sounds I have in life, and the opportunity to keep learning how to describe them.