Sound Meanings

Girl Playing Harmonica (Huang Yongyu)

Monday, September 07, 2020, Labor Day

This day is of appreciating labor, and our progress, socially and affluently, attributable to the historical trio–innovation, production, and labor. This particular Labor Day also is one of remembering labor, because of the pandemic. Many manufacturing processes are truncated or shut down and it’s uncertain as to when a manufacturing revival may occur. We question if things could resume as in the past for much has changed over a brief time.

I want to labor at learning, and have checked online for free courses in the arts and humanities that seem interesting. Lately, I’ve focused on a variety of music-learning. I’ve considered courses on appreciating music and on how to play a harmonica. Wondering about my attraction to these has made me aware that listening to music is like listening to spoken words.

In particular, I’m recalling what it’s like listening to customers while at my part-time job. When someone speaks, I hear tones, rhythms, pauses, high and low sounds, and punctuation forms (coughs, sighs, and throat-clearings). The rates and pitches of these quickly offer insight to a speaker’s state of mind and focus.

Without thinking much about how we listen, we do tune closely as others speak. We hear beyond mere words and sense a speaker’s meanings and suggestions. We listen for openings that may invite our responses. Essentially, technical words applying to a musical scale apply equally to a listening scale: tempo, meter, dynamics, rests, and all.

As to my wanting to learn to play a harmonica, the instrument seems easy for a beginner to approach. That’s superficial though, because learning to play well any instrument eventually requires the comprehension of a technical musical idiom. That is, unless one wants to stick with the primaries: “Happy Birthday” and “Mary Had A Little Lamb”. You get the picture.

Dear Friends: Wishing for you a happy Labor Day with lots of interests. Diana

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