A Day of Sound

  1. 1. Morning

    French press

    As a compulsive morning showerer, I begin my days with the sound of water and the birds outside my bathroom window. After my shower I like to spend an hour or so reading beside the fire in my living room. I start with the New York Times morning briefing and then—if I have time—transition to a good book. My recent reads include Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick and How to do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy by Jenny Odell. While I haven’t yet finished the latter, so far I would highly recommend both books. While the water for my tea or french press coffee boils, I make myself comfortable with a blanket on the floor and select my playlist. In the mornings, I tend to favor something in the jazz or classical genres. As of late, my go-to artist is Stan Getz. Stan Getz was an American jazz saxophonist acclaimed for the unique warmth and lyricism of his music. He explored bebop and cool jazz as well, but Getz is perhaps best known for his version of the song “The Girl from Ipanema” which popularized the bossa nova subgenre in America. While I have yet to hear a Stan Getz song I don’t enjoy, if you’re unfamiliar with his music I’d recommend starting with the bossa nova classics (the 2014 collaboration album between Getz and Joao Gilberto is a great place to start). 

    Of course, not every day offers the opportunity of morning leisure. On days when I have to go to work early, I sometimes prefer to exchange music for a news podcast. My favorites are The Daily from The New York Times and This American Life.

  2. 2. Afternoon

    Spotify on iPhone

    My afternoons are typically consumed with reading, writing, and cleaning. My current favorite album to listen to while studying is the new release Terra Firma by Tash Sultana. It is genre bending: at once rhythmic, peaceful, and bold. Tash’s music lets me escape into what I’m focusing on, drawing me inside her luscious rhythms to a focal point of calm. 

    When driving, I tend to favor more upbeat music. I often lean towards indie pop and rock. I’ll add a shortened version of my go-to afternoon drive playlist below:

    1. Tenderness by Parquet Courts

    2. Real Love Baby by Father John Misty

    3. Charlie by Mallrat

    4. I Can Change by LCD Soundsystem (I also enjoy the Ezra Klein cover)

    5. Karen, You’re An Angel by Sleeping in the Aviary

    6. Butterflies by Samsa

    7. Blue Coupe by Twin Peaks

    8. Katie Queen of Tennessee by The Apache Relay

    9. Angel from Montgomery by John Prine

    10. Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying by Belle & Sebastian

    11. Reckless Serenade by Arctic Monkeys

    12. Slow Mover by Angie McMahon

    13. America by Simon & Garfunkel

    Living alone, one of my favorite sound indulgences is podcasts and audiobooks. I spent every afternoon in summer listening to Jim Dale’s recordings of the Harry Potter series in audiobook format. If you’re a Harry Potter fan looking for some comfort, it’s a great way to relax during the day. If you’ve never read the series, now may be the time to start, and listening may be the way! That said, there are countless wonderful audiobooks out there for your perusal, many of them free on Audible. And, if you have an Amazon Prime account, you automatically qualify for one free book of your choice on Audible every month.

  3. 3. Nighttime

    listening to podcast

    During the evenings, I often like to indulge in elaborate solitary dinners. While I cook, I listen to podcasts. My favorites as of late are The Real Question, Modern Love, The Liturgists, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, and This American Life (mentioned previously). For me, the appeal of podcasts is the conversational element. I like podcasts that give me questions to ask and ponder and thoughtful possibilities to listen to. It becomes an exchange of thought, particularly when listeners engage with the plethora of online podcast forums at our disposal, from Facebook groups to Discord chats to good old-fashioned voicemails and emails with the hosts. I also enjoy listening to sermons and poetry readings for some nighttime peace of mind. The Writer’s Voice is one of my personal favorite outlets, offering a plethora of short stories from The New Yorker read aloud. 

    Once my dinner is done and I’ve partaken in a few episodes of Westworld or New Girl (because hey, variety is important), I settle into bed with a book. In this final hour or two before sleep, I like to embrace the sound of the quiet. While I read, I listen to the ocean in the distance, the heater flickering off and on, the rain drumming on the windows, the (somewhat less serene) racoons pattering on the roof. I listen to the notably not-silent silence. I’m tempted to say there's music to the ringing in my ears. There’s music to the softness of dark and quiet, music to the breath of nightfall.

While I live every day in a flurry of intentional sound, I do feel that there is something beautiful and perhaps important about silence. In the silence, I hear the parts of myself and the world around me that are moving more slowly. In the silence, space is created for accidental noise.