All About Sound


Ecstatic dance: rolling around a vibrating floor with a hundred people. It’s how I spend my Thursday evenings.

Recently, a dancer with a degenerative illness shared: “It’s at the moment when I bring all my pain to the movement, that the dance becomes ecstatic.”

After the dance, we lie on the floor for a ‘sound healing.‘ You can feel the vibrations in your body, touching each organ, like a subtle massage.

Deaf percussionist, Dame Evelyn Glennie, hears sound through her whole body. She plays barefoot, to better sense the vibrations. Her stunning level of artistry makes ‘listening through the ear’ seem academic.

In Philadelphia parks, the city uses sound as a weapon. Park officials have installed high-frequency sound boxes which repel young people. Human rights organizations have deemed these devices a violation of international law, dubbing them “inhuman and degrading treatment.”

An international design studio has created sustainable, colorful acoustic tiles which buffer sound while creating playful murals.

And yet, sound control isn’t a priority for the majority of public spaces, particularly bars and restaurants:

The result is a loud space that renders speech unintelligible. Now that it’s so commonplace, the din of a loud restaurant is unavoidable. That’s bad for your health—and worse for the staff who works there. But it also degrades the thing that eating out is meant to culture: a shared social experience that rejuvenates, rather than harms, its participants.

People can get touchy when I complain about their acoustics on Instagram. Sensitive people are cheering me on.