Endangered Sounds

I was listening to this piece on NPR this morning on endangered sounds – I just caught the tail end, but it did reference an intriguing place, the Museum of Endangered Sounds and it got me thinking about the sounds I’d preserve.

  • The sound of TILT on a pinball machine.
  • The swishing sound of the sliding doors on the Starship Enterprise and all the “ground breaking” side effects produced by those amazing gadgets like the communicator, the phaser, and the ever present device for field exploration on new planets, the tricorder.  Also the Enterprise had some brilliant ambient sounds emanating from all the computers and other communication and medical devices.
  • The Rebel Yell.  Has anyone alive ever heard one?  Howard Dean’s yell may have been close, so that might be worth preserving.
  • The burble of a water cooler.
  • Jack Goldstein’s Suite of Sound Effects.  It’s brilliant and definitely endangered. I heard it for the first time at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.  Some of the tunes include the sounds of a lost ocean liner, a barking German Shepard and three felled trees.

  • The sound of manual typewriter keys and the ringing return.
  • Fender Rhodes and Moog synthesizers of the 70’s, that helped create the groovy and funky sounds of Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul and so many other hip pioneers who played them.
  • Ed McMahon’s abrupt laugh.  Johnny Carson of the Tonight Show was funny, but lost without Ed who laughed at the right times.
  • Muttley’s laugh (Dick Dastardly’s dog from the Wacky Races).  For a sample of the snickering dog click:  SKm5xQyD2vE

Vinyl Record Exhibit at the ICA, Boston

I’m almost embarrassed to say that in all the years I’ve lived in Boston, I’ve never once been to the Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA), until now that is.  When I heard about the Contemporary Art and Vinyl Exhibition, I had to go, and so my daughter and I headed out there late in the afternoon on a Sunday.  And it truly was a sun day – close to 100 degrees.  We arrived by 4:00, only to find out the museum closes at 5:00.  I was worried that we wouldn’t have enough time to see the exhibit, but as it turned out, we had plenty.

The record exhibit featured album sculptures, black and white photographs of folks from the 50’s grooving to records, sound exhibits and short films of people doing really strange things with turntables and records.  One of the most interesting exhibits was a listening installation of samples from Jack Goldstein’s Suite of Sound Effects, which included a tornado, a lost ocean liner, two wrestling cats and three felled trees.  The nine multi-colored original vinyl records were displayed alongside the listening station.

The museum is a boxy modern building which juts out into the Boston Harbor.  It reminds me very much of the Clinton Presidential Museum and Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. Upon entering, there is a large glass elevator with views of the harbor.   The exhibits are mostly on the 4th floor, with several lounging areas overlooking the harbor.  Upon approach, one sloped room equipped with computers and pillows gives the effect of walking into the harbor.

One of the most peculiar aspects of the ICA is the similarity of its logo to that of the IGA supermarket chain.