sound of new york 纽约之音

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After listening many times to the recordings of the noises I collected in New York last week, I was too overwhelmed not to escape from my laptop. I sat at the porch for almost two hours with Maria, who was fed up with some crazy philosophy books. (She had a strong desire to throw the books out of her window….Alas, the books belong to the library.)

Then we decided to make the rest of our day a holiday – not Independence Day, which means little to us aliens. We went to the lake, waited at the bridge to greet a freight train, which honked happily for us and brought me back to my childhood for a moment. Back home, we had a big dinner together, then sat at the porch to watch fireworks through thick tree leaves!

After a long break, I could finally listened to the mix of the noises and sounds from New York once again and write about it.

I must admit that this audio piece is meant to annoy you so that you are aware of this horrible noise pollution. While in New York last week, I was pretty upset, well, I was tortured and haunted by this noise pollution that permeated the whole city. These noises, in many different layers, seeped into my skin, my blood and my brains. Wherever I went, they were right there. There was no way to escape them. Even when I was sleeping in bed, I heard them and felt them. I was “soaked” in these noises, smothered. I couldn’t get real rest at all. Every day, I felt tired and sleepy.

Yes, I heard birds, too, but their chirps were usually “choked” by the passing vehicles and airplanes. And I heard music, but the music was hammered by the cell phone rings, honking cars, running engines, clink of chisels, jack hammers, humming of all kinds of machines, loud crowds…The only sound I could appreciate might be the different languages of foreigners from all over the world. And yet when I was in MoMa, I wished I had been alone sitting in front of Monet’s Waterlily Pond, instead of trying to squeeze though a thick crowd so I could glance at it…

I am sorry I put you through the New York noise pollution. So below the words is one of my favorite piece of classical Chinese music, “Dialogue between the Fisherman and the Woodcutter,” which I hope will calm you down.

Big thanks to Alan Chin for loaning me his precious recorder! I didn’t break it or throw it into the ocean water out of noise-related frustration…

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