What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt

A small piece of paper hangs on the wall in a stairwell at an elementary school. The official document lists, in grid form, much like a test or a textbook, a handful of guidelines for students. Several of these rules touch on sound — about receiving and producing sound, about paying attention, and about making noise. A key word, not surprising given the academic setting, is “quiet.” The most interesting of the guidelines is this correlation, not between sound and volume, or instruction, or reception, but a more complicated connection between the sound of active feet and the side effects of that activity. There are stages of learning in elementary school. Double-digit addition comes after single digits. The ratio of pictures to words in books flips as time passes. This concept, that quiet feet will be patient feet and that patient feet will not make dust clouds, is a next-level association. It’s arguably more complex, that is, than the idea that washing your hands will make it less likely you’ll take ill. For very young students, the “quiet feet” line is more likely to be received initially as an axiom than as a causal instruction. For students of sound, however, it’s precisely the kind of secondary connection that we should keep our ears out for.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.

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