The Art of Time Traveling (With Sound)

There’s one sound that evokes the warmest memories in me.

Even more than a particular taste or smell, this sound immediately transports me to my childhood. To endless summer days at a place where it’s always summer, Panama.

That sound is the sound of leaves rustling in the wind.

The funny thing is that I didn’t even know this until I moved to New York City almost thirteen years ago.

You see, I had never experienced the seasons until well into my adult lifeI had never witnessed in person what I now think is one of the most wonderful things, the ebb and flow that is also part of life in general.

And so it was that my summer shrank from permanent to about three or four months out of the year. Then fall arrived with its dying leaves. Suddenly windy days were a thing. They weren’t a thing for me before, ever. So this magical combination ended up giving some big and beautiful trees something they didn’t have all winter: a voice.

So I noticed that this simple, calming sound was inextricably linked in my brain to some of my happiest memories. To sunny days and friends. And most of all, to being a kid and the master of your little corner of the universe on those summer days.

And as often happens with many things in life, I only noticed it when it went away. That’s part of the beauty of sound. It’s at the same time subtle and impactful. It does not need to be at the forefront to provoke a huge emotional reaction. This is one of the guiding principles here at Man Made Music, silence is our ‘white space’ we like to say, to borrow a reference from graphic design.

The clip above was shot at one of my favorite spots, right by the Hudson river. See if it evokes something in you.

Recently, I discovered that another sound, one most people find jarring, had become instead strangely comforting to me. After traveling to distant places and hearing it again at my return I realized it had become a warm reminder of being back at home in the big city. That sound is the sound of sirens piercing the silence of the night. I’ll spare you the clip of that one…