Tuesday, March 18, 2014

For Annea Lockwood and Alison Knowles

Keep the next sound you hear
in mind
for at least the next half hour.



bird call. fast, short, and shrill. 
repeated 2x.


When I first read this meditation, it struck me as very simple and yet quite challenging. I was sitting in my room, with my window open. Once I began listening, the first sound I heard was a gentle rustling of my blanket I was wrapped around, followed by an unclear pattering sound from down the hall. Neither of these sounds stood out to me in a way that made it easy to remember them. So I tried, but other sounds kept getting in the way. 

Soon enough there was a loud, clear, and distinct bird call that must have come from right outside my window. The call was then repeated two times, after approximately three seconds of silence. This was very easy to keep inside of my head. My first tactic was to keep repeating the sound, exactly as I heard it, inside of my head. It required intense focus, and seemed too forced. This "sound" in my mind was no longer the sound as I heard it, but rather an imitation projected through my distinct head voice. Perhaps it is similar to reading, in that the voice you hear inside of your head it your own.

I then reevaluated the intentions of the piece. Keeping a sound "in mind" doesn't necessarily mean to "replay continuously" in my head. I felt foolish for assuming that. "In mind" means simply remembering the sound, allowing it to influence my thoughts, actions, and other perceptions (including listening) in whatever capacity. I allowed myself to drift into a listening meditation, allowing the now indistinct initial sound to mingle with the sound environment. I soon began noticing that the furnace, as it turned on, made a similar, but more drawn out rhythm of the call. A while later, a car honked and it seemed to me to be similar in pitch. My ears began making relationships in unexpected ways. Even when the half hour was over, I had a difficult time forgetting the bird call. It became an underlying thought, of sorts, that influenced my listening throughout the day.



  1. Such a nice re-evaluation! That seems like a really useful discovery. You went from something kind of mechanical, or automatic, to a way of listening and "holding" the sound that allowed a performance to unfold. Very cool!

    1. Very cool indeed Michelle. Susan shared her experience very generously. Thanks Susan for giving me your perspective on For Annea Lockwood and Alison Knowles.