School Memories begins near the furthest carpark entrance to Blaxland High School, located in the lower Blue Mountains region. At a leisurely pace, walk along the outside of the high school to discover the many sounds of the school environment and recall your own personal times when you were a student. This project takes us on a short audio journey of walking through a school (along the outside of the public high school) and re-experiencing the sounds of the school grounds and classroom. You will explore the variety of sounds associated with school and reminisce on your own time there when times were simple. As an ex-student from Blaxland High School, this holds deep meaning to me, I had many amazing and emotional experiences, and of course miserable, but have come to truly appreciate the beautiful moments of school and you will too.
The true meaning of the variating sounds and atmospheres of this project will be interpreted differently from person to person as we have all had different types of experiences in the school environment. Canadian electroacoustic composer Barry Truax (2001) suggests that “the way in which a sequence of sound is structured determines the type of meaning, or levels of meaning, it communicates, provided the listener has the appropriate tacit knowledge to decode it” (p.177). In this project, we all possess the knowledge to understand the meaning of the sounds and all the sonic components due to the commonality of school that is shared by almost every person. This provided me with a clear fundamental basis and goal to gather the relevant audio to construct a project that illustrates the meaningfulness of the arrangement of sound and how it can affect the listener. It is structured in a way where the meaning of the project is amplified the more you discover and remember the sounds of the school environment, which can be led by your interpretation.
The audio of the school children's ambience during their break times as well as audio of a teacher talking to his class creates thick background layers in the project that immerses us into the audio. These are driving forces in the school soundscape that draws us to be conscious of and think about our own experiences in school. The initial chaos of the sound of kids in the school environment is dampened by the calming and peaceful sounds of the birds in the Blue Mountains, adding an extra atmospheric layer and illustrating the tone of the project, which may be interpreted in your own manner. To complete the atmospheric layers, a short and gentle musical composition is utilised to evoke emotion and support the ambient soundscape.
The project is portrayed with the familiar sound effects of an everyday school student's life. I recorded a wide variety of sound effects that illustrate the time during school to transport you back into your time there. Some sounds including writing on paper, laughter, typing, and bag zippers are highlighted to position you in a space where you feel as though you are back at school. Is it enjoyable? Is it bad? What did you find pleasant about school? These will be the types of questions you will ask yourself when walking through the project, making you conscious of your past and reminisce on the memorable times of school. The image you will have in your head whilst walking will be led by your imagination and interpretation to make the soundwalk truly your own.
The project attempts to remind you of the memorable and enjoyable times of being a school student and to reminisce on those times. This provides a unique and interpretative listening experience, where every listener will have many different experiences to think about, causing you to appreciate the times you had. Enjoy the walk along the outside of Blaxland High School and appreciate the enjoyable memories!
References: Truax, B. (2001). Acoustic communication (2nd ed.). Greenwood Publishing Group.
Additional sound effects recording: Declan Muller, Dylan Perera, Jonathan Remfrey
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