Constantly humming engines each tasked for humanity’s various comforts, concerts where the pointless cheering of the audience surpasses the actual music being played, people shouting at each other for no good reason… the list goes on.

The world is getting more and more noisy each passing day. Naturally occurring sounds are much less heard and man-made clamor starts taking up most of our daily lives, especially in urban areas… It rains outside but frequent car honks replace the sound of raindrops. You cook but the soothing sound of crackling fire is almost always suppressed by a piece of metal or wood clashing into other cooking utensils in arrhythmic bursts of underestimated auditory disturbance. People downstairs argue in the loudest way possible about which side of the egg to pierce… the flat end wins by the power of extremely overused vocal chords. 

We are living in a world where even complete silence is becoming white noise. When did we last enjoy watching the dumb night sky accompanied by silent but bright stars? The quiet of the sun rising over distant mountains? The soothing calmness of deep underwater? The mute work of art; a painting perhaps, telling us all kinds of stories silently if we have the imagination? The voiceless communication of two lovers carefully examining each other’s facial features while smiling occasionally (and sheepishly)?

The natural sounds on the other hand, add depth to whatever we are experiencing like condiments on fries… whether it’s sea gulls gawking over a deserted beach or logs crackling in a fireplace feeding it’s conqueror… but all these natural sounds have been exiting our lives silently, leaving their places to metallic, mechanic, digitized sounds. 

Do you know how many words we have invented just to name all the different sounds that are being manufactured mechanically or electronically?

Whirring, buzzing, clanking, clinking, clicking, clunking, clattering, smashing, slamming, honking, ticking, banging, pinging, blipping, etc…

And add to this the fact that we use some words like “hissing” to describe escaping gas rather than the sound a slithering serpent makes.

Music has become the only cluster of man-made sounds that seem to work and change our moods for the better, but even so, it’s starting to decline in quality over the last couple of decades. More and more singers and bands pop out each year and soon forgotten… who could beat the satisfaction we got from the Beatles, the Doors, Queen, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Muddy Waters and all the Classical music composers that have fed our souls for years (or even centuries)…

Music is food for the soul, but it has become junk food lately… And just as junk food being bad for our physical health, bad music or the disturbing noises we hear everyday in our lives is equally bad for our mental health.

So, what can be done to enjoy the world without all the disturbing noises the modern life throws at us?

No, we may not get rid of our alarm clocks and replace them with roosters if we are urban dwellers, but we may still…

  • Refrain using shouting and yelling of any caliber as the main form of communication with others. 
  • Allocate more funds to invent motors or machinery that make less sound.
  • Build more soundproof houses with thicker walls so that we won’t get to hear the neighbor flush every time.
  • Spend more time in nature.
  • Make or encourage musicians to make better music.

One thought on “Urban Sounds, the Constant Noise and the Longing for Silence in Cities

  1. Absolutely agree. Some days and some nigths I wish to scape, to go …where? This city has not nearly nature. The beach is noisy at night, during the day (people, cars, pubs, music, restaurants…)
    Early, we’ll be other kind of refuges, these who look for a silent place.
    Silence is another thing that only belongs to rich people. Another one more

    Like

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