‘Ear cleaning’

Our ears pick up many sounds. In order to hear not only the sounds that are loud but also the sounds that are quiet, we could do with a little exercise. I challenge you to practice some good ear cleaning! It will be nothing like during an evening bath.

To find out what ear cleaning is, we will go on a journey into the past. Let’s imagine that we are going 1000 years back in time. We are on the Cathedral Island in the times of Duke Mieszko I. We are standing by the river. Meadows and trees stretch over the land around us. Right next to us the inhabitants of the settlement live their everyday lives. There is no noise made by trams or cars. What can we hear? Grass? Splashing water? People talking? The sounds that reach our ears are not drowned out by the noise. If we can hear particular sounds of this soundscape, it is a good sign! Our ears have just been cleaned!

We do not have to go back in time to experience that! Listen now to the sounds we recorded by the river flowing nearby. Try to notice as many details as you can. It is a good exercise for your ears!


Humming of the street in the background – keynote sound

This is what we call a sound that is always present in a particular place. After a while we are so used to it that we stop paying attention to it. An example of such a sound is the sound of waves heard on a beach. In the Valley of the Cybina River the keynote sounds were probably once the sounds made by wildlife. Unfortunately, today the keynote sound is often the noise made by various machines such as passing cars.

Ambulance – sound signal

Sound signals are the sounds which stand out from other sounds. Their role is to attract our attention in order to warn or protect us. Or in order to pass an important message – for example, the sound of an alarm clock tells us it is time to wake up.

Cathedral bells – soundmark

Soundmarks are sounds typical of a particular place. They are so distinctive that when we hear them, we immediately know what place they are coming from. For example, when we hear the famous bugle call from St Mary’s Church, we immediately think about Cracow.


Crickets – archetypal sound

Archetypal sounds are symbols. We begin to learn to recognise their meaning in childhood. That is why we associate heartbeat with life, and chirping crickets – with a quiet summer afternoon.