Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sound of Silence

ATLAS control room is awfully quiet at night, all of us at shift are intently staring at room full of monitors, spitting out plots, and color coded status of detector components. There are about a dozen of us, but I barely know who the guy at the next desk is. When I think about the shifts at CDF control room years back, it was very different. There were only 4 of us, but we chitchatted, cracked jokes, shared food. And then there were alarms, very audible ones. For anything unusual, animals barked, trains whistled, elephants roared, and water flowed loudly, accompanied by a mechanical hard-to-ignore female voice. Those alarms were as much a part of the CDF control room experience as anything. I miss them in ATLAS.

That brings up an interesting question, the importance of sound in situations where it is not strictly necessary. I was watching the superbowl on a French TV channel here - the same plays, the same pictures, but with the commentary in French. Worse, the commentators seemed to be sitting in Paris, so the crowd noise was real muffled. Somehow I could never get the feel of excitement associated with such a high profile game - a closely contested one too, and I am convinced it was the lack of usual "football sound". How often have we realized were speeding driving a super-smooth car with no sound? Sea beaches do not feel like sea beaches without the roar of the sea, specially so at dark.

A while back, I had an interesting discussion with a friend about the effect of dialogues in performing arts in general, especially in movies. Her argument was, the story can still be followed without understanding the conversations, and a movie in a foreign language without subtitles should be equally enjoyable. I disagreed, saying the cultural references are often integral to the storyline, and without understanding the dialogues at all will be a serious impediment to enjoying the movie. A movie like " Big Lebowski" is dependent fully on dialogues, while "The Last Tango in Paris" is not." What is your take on this?

1 comment:

Rabimba said...

So true.
Sound plays an integral part in our perception and understanding...or so i think.
I was just blogging about a band performance in our batch when I got the notification of this post...and i started thinking what would have been the atmosphere in the performance have been if there were no cheers from the crowd.
No clapping no madness.

It would have made the performance very dull. Everything depends upon ambiance and sound plays a vital part in it.