Wednesday, May 6, 2009

OTR: Sounds

I live in an urban area, about a half block from a major railroad line. As I start to type this, I'm hearing a freight train. Steel wheels on welded rail, suspension squeaks and the clanks of wheels over switch joints. When a train comes through, I'll often first hear the horn blowing a warning for a crossing or to warn away workers on the tracks. Sometimes a long horn blast makes you hold your breath to listen for a crash or the screech of braking wheels. After the horn sounds, I'll hear the rumble of the locomotives. I can usually tell if it is a freight train or a passenger train just from the engine sound.

Mixed with those sounds are many other sounds -- motorcycles, sirens, barking dogs. Daylight brings leaf blowers and lawnmowers, kids playing, birds, an ice cream truck.

On my way home tonight, I got thinking about sounds. I tried to decide what sounds brought me the most pleasure -- what sounds I liked the most. At the top of the list, I decided that I most liked the pure sound of a baby that can't stop laughing at something. You've heard it -- an adult is playing peek-a-boo and the baby finds it to be the most amusing game on the planet. Sometimes it is just a particular noise or a face made by someone. That belly laugh is the best sound on the planet.

I then decided that what I liked next best was the sound of a well-played piano (Vince Guaraldi playing "Linus & Lucy") or a pronounced bass guitar in a rock and roll band (love the bass line line in the Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction").

Last in this list is the sound of a Merlin aircraft engine (yes, this is something completely geeky). I suppose a lot has to do with the change in sound created by the Doppler effect of a moving object, but the sound of a Merlin engine flying overhead will get me outside and looking up.

Certainly a series of interesting contrasts, but representative of the sounds that get my attention and put a smile on my face.

1 comment:

pakurilecz said...

yeah the RR Merlin has a distinctive sound but there is nothing to match the sound of a big old radial engine like the Wright R3350 or the PW R4360