Tag Archives: listening

I Like the Noises They Make…

If I was to ask you what sounds Michael Jackson and Prince make frequently when they sing you would know exactly what I mean. Michael used to do this heeeeheeeheee thing. And Prince does this high pitched falsetto thing like someone ran over his foot or he’s just climaxed or something. LOLOL!!! You know what I mean. Those noises are iconic.

Even before Venus and Serena came on the scene, we became familiar with deep guttural releases and grunts and sometimes screams emitted as tennis players lunged forward to serve, volley and connect with the ball. Every single sound is made in an effort towards a journey to victory. Bruce Lee and many master Martial artists make sounds when they practiced as well. Imagine a Kung Fu flick without human noise. No really, think about it.

One of things i love about the way Bjork makes music is that she relishes the primal sounds in nature and is always finding ways to incorporate them in her work. When she starts to scream or yell and let her voice take her, she’s not looking for a polished, finished sound, though she is a perfectionist about arranging everything that supports that sound. She lives for the raw, for the visceral, for the groan that it is emitted from an organic, unpracticed, yet purposeful place.

Drake is another artists who incorporates noises in his voice this way. He uses his yeahs, and uhs and other noises minimally and effectively to create this unconscious feeling of connection to his vulnerability even as he brags in various ways that he’s a Legend. That and he’s ALWAYS up in his feelings on every track. LOL!! But I’m a Drake addict for that reason so there’s no reasoning with me. His emo approach is on fleek.

When we are babies, before we grasp the art of language, we communicate through noises, through different pitch levels, through gurgles, laughters, scream, shouts, indecipherable streams of phonics meant to draw attention to our need to connect, communicate, get our needs met, be held, fed, touched, taken to the bathroom, shown the way, told stories, be instructed on what to do and what not to do and also to share what we ourselves are discovering. Before we can “talk” we react to everything we discover, feel, sense, taste, hear, with noises.

The noises we make are primal and are the first language we know as human beings. Mammals and many other life forms use noises primarily to communicate effectively. Anthropomorphic characteristics only occur based on the level of integration into human life. Otherwise, animals speak the same language all their lives. They’re not like, hey do I write a letter, compose a tune, draft an email. sing a song, telegraph or draw a chart in order to greet someone this morning?

As humans we find ourselves in a world where communicating verbally can take on a myriad of forms, many of them meant to manipulate, deceive, falsify, hide, and self sabotage but very rarely do we communicate clearly, directly intimately. This is why forms of communion and art that allow people to make noises are so important. Noises bring the art of communication back to basics. When we first were taught the alphabet we had to sound out everything. We had to learn the sounds of each letter in order to understand the role they played in forming words, then sentences, paragraphs, stories, conversations. I read at high a level at a very young age because I was completely enthralled with the power of words, particularly in writing and books. I was lost happily in the world of books for years as a young girl. It was the way that a shy introvert learned to navigate the social circles of my peers. But there is a deep communication beyond words that occurs in noises and in silences, in a baby’s eyes, in Serena Williams yells, in Drakes, uhs, in Bjorks piercing Icelandic shrill.

Some noises we make effect us on an unconscious level we never fully understand or are aware of. Others we understand are necessary of our sanity and peace of mind. The sound a and tone of someone’s voice for me can often be just as important if not more than what they are saying. It tells me much more about the true intent than the actual words. Once I can trust the sound, then I can listen or rather I should say, I can hear.

It’s so important to really hear.

Podcast Junkie: Listening VS Looking


So maybe it’s not the best idea for me to listen to emotionally compelling podcasts during lunch because I tend to get very emotional and weepy when I learn about other people’s breakthroughs, especially when I can so closely relate or am deeply fascinated with the particular phenomena being discussed. But I can’t always tell how a podcast show will affect me and that’s part of why I like the ones I’m discovering so much.

I love taking in information through audio because it allows me to feel in a different way than when I am bombarded by imagery. Now you know I love imagery but podcasts have started to fill just as significant a space in my life as film and television media. This is partially because I can take them anywhere with me, listen to then any time and partially because people communicate differently when their means of communication is intended primarily for audio. I have yet to listen to any fictional podcasts. I just listen to people discussing topics and telling their own stories and I have to say that most of the time it really shifts the way in which I look at life and at people. But I suppose that has as much to do with the podcasts I choose to listen to than anything.

“Girl on Guy” with Aisha Tyler has recently become a fast favorite. I was never sure what to make of Aisha Tyler, a tall, beautiful Black  comedienne, the only Black Cast member “Friends” ever had, the voice of a sexy looking, snarky agent on “Archer.” I think I always thought she was too something to be funny. Too pretty…too feminine? No matter what I think, I tend to have predominantly white and or male expectations of comedy because it is literally over run with the two. And I mean Aisha is not funny looking at all. I mean that literally. Looking at Tracee Ellis Ross when she’s being funny in a still photograph makes me laugh. Tracee has a very unique combination of glam and comic going on. Looking at Aisha Tyler does not incite laughter for me.

But listening to “Guy on Girl” I find that Aisha Tyler is more than just funny. She’s emotionally generous, giving, supportive and sensitive to her fans. Sitting with people for anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour talking and listening is not something a lot of people commit to on a whim. Although the podcasts I enjoy often have an interview format, the hosts I prefer thrive on letting the discussion meander off topic occasionally and not being restricted to a set of pre-authorized questions.  I  have decided that there is a very special talent involved in it, which requires both a presence of mind (and I can tell when someone is really there, particularly over the phone) and a genuine interest in human story. It’s rare. But when it’s real, it’s real and I find it addictive to listen to.

Yesterday I was scrolling around my podcast app at lunch when I came upon an NPR segment called “Invisibilia,” Latin for “All the invisible things,” a podcast which is described as being about “invisible forces that control human behavior.” This episode, which it turns out was the first in the series is called “The Secret History of Thoughts.” I found the study which was composed of anonymously shared stories to be disturbing, fascinating, heart breaking and hope giving. I can never anticipate what I will discover when I go looking for an interesting podcast but most of the time, it’s pretty amazing, inspiring and empowering for me. But then that is what I look for. So that’s what I find. I was obsessed with Ted Talks in this same way for a while last year. OOOOHH Ted Talks! They made me feel so smart! LOL!! I still love them. With podcasts I just get to use a different part of my being to “see” and engage without the conditioned reflexive pressure of comparison and judgement that often comes with “looking.”

I’m all about that.