Conveying meaning through Sound.

I once read a story about twins who grew in the womb together.

As babies, they communicated with each other. They understood the language of the trees, and birds, and stars. But then the babies grew up, and they forgot. They became cynical about the things that were too beautiful for words.

This story struck a chord because it has to do with the things we once knew - but have mostly forgotten - the secret language of sound.

As babies - before we acquire the ability to understand language and the meaning of words - we understood what is communicated as sound. In fact, our ears were the first sense organ that was developed as a foetus (around 20 weeks). The first sensory input we perceived was sound.

If you think about it, we receive so much information through sound. When we speak, the meaning conveyed lies not only in the words - but how they are spoken. There is pitch and tone and rhythm and tempo. Is the voice shaky? Inflections in the voice? These provide an insight into the inner state of a person.

Next time you are in a coffee shop or in a meeting, try to listen to the conversation as sound (rather than words). 

See if you can discern: 

  • how high or low each voice is pitched
  • how loud or soft each voice is speaking
  • the length of words and the spaces between them
  • how fast or slow each voice is speaking
  • how each voice uses inflections to colour the intent behind the words
  • each voice as if it was a solo instrument
  • all the sounds as a single soundscape

(I adapted this exercise from the book, The Practice of Nada Yoga.)

Cari Lin