Nowadays, most people’s ears are enthralled with the specific and highly orchestrated sounds of the music they buy and then, literally, pump into their heads. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that we can basically control what our ears experience for the majority of the day, but I’ve recently had an audio awakening. Surprisingly enough, this breakthrough was made while I was checking out a new iPhone app. Chris Nolan, and Hans Zimmer, the composer that worked on the Hollywood blockbuster film, Inception, recently released an iPhone ‘game’ featuring music from the movie. I know what you’re thinking; it’s just a stupid sound effect app geared towards fans of the movie. Although, I must admit to being a fan of the movie, the Inception app caught my attention with its description of ‘game-play’.

I downloaded the app and headed to Micky D’s for a breakfast boost. The app uses your phone’s microphone, the GPS (I’m guessing) and the gyroscope to create a aural landscape that builds upon the physical landscape surrounding you. To progress in the game, you have to trigger certain responses in the programming be being still, or active, loud or quiet for certain amounts of time as you interact with the physical world around you. Stay with me here, it’s actually pretty ‘trippy’. In the different, levels, or ‘dreams’, as the app calls them, you hear the other-worldly and ominous music from the movie mix with the amplified and augmented ambient sounds that are with you all the time in your hum-drum daily activities. Snapping your coat closed, opening a door, a message from the conductor, someone sneezing next to you or asking you for directions turns into a slow-motion, echoing, melodramatic phrase that you can’t help but elevate to significant or important in you mind as you process the event as if it were the first time you’d come across it. I was impressed. I heard things and saw things that I never cared to pay attention to in the past. Before long, I was moving differently and speaking differently and purposely doing things to in the ‘real’ world to try and induce more audio stimulation in my ‘dream-game’. Fun huh?

The point of this excruciating app review is to call out the importance of non-musical sound in our everyday life. We spend so much time trying to block sound out, letting it back in full-force can feel liberating. Maybe that sneeze is important for me to hear? Perhaps the sound of someone approaching me from behind in the hallwayshould sound a little scary? Can we truly say that we’re living together in the same world when we can’t hear each other? From now on, I’m going to be more aware of all the sounds that present themselves in my audio life, whether I’m dreaming or wide-awake.