Producer: Michael Schubert
In Search of Silence
Do you want to hear all about silence? Perhaps silence is simply the absence of sound. Not noise. But is that it? I’m on a quest in search of silence, to explore the views of those who work with sound, and those who deal with silence. The quest will take me to the quietest rooms and the noisiest streets, in search of silence.
I asked the experts, sat in silent rooms and explored a diversity of views. What I found was a range of definitions and a fascination amongst those who work with silence. From hearing and communication researchers to composers, musicians, sound recording engineers and naturalists and acoustic ecologists – they all had their point of view, their lens on silence.
The anechoic chamber, a silent room, rumoured to drive you crazy turned out to be serene, unusual and compelling. Hearing Researchers told me that we don’t hear sounds in our head at all, it’s all electrical currents. Not sound at all. Composers and sound recordists considered silence to be as important as sound. Conductors insist that musicians needed to learn how to play silence in order to create great performances.
I talked with Professor David McAlpine from the Australian Hearing Hub, a researcher who opened the door to the anechoic chamber, Richard Gill, composer, conductor and music educator who is currently exploring how to play silence, and Guntis Sics, who is always on film sets and finds his version of professional silence different to absolute silence.
Does silence exist? Would we want silence if we could actually find it? Will our brain allow silence to exist for us? These are some of the questions posed and answered as I go In Search of Silence.
Visit In Search of Silence for blog posts and interviews.
This piece was made for the CBAA National Features & Documentary Series 2016, a showcase of work by new and emerging Australian community radio producers, with training and mentoring provided by the Community and Media Training Organisation.