The Good-Bye Room

a soundscape

Testing the mic. Lacey was very polite. Not a peep or a sigh or a bark. I think she's a bit to leave, too.

What does a room sound like when a person leaves it?  When one has moved from a room, whether it be temporarily or permanently, what happens to the sound?  I haven’t really thought about it in this exact way before and felt it appropriate to capture this idea.  I’m very often, though not always, a person who thinks about where I’m about to go, not where I have just left.  (Unless it was an anxiety ridden or traumatic event and then I have to analyze the crap out of where I just was).

I am moving.  So, this is a song of my room.  A room in which I have gotten so angry that I threw my headphones on the floor and stomped them into the ground (yes, there’s a song about that) and one in which I have fallen asleep on the floor and/or futon after recording at 3 am.  Yes.  I am sentimental.  I can own up to it.

In this now mostly empty space, I opened all the windows up in my apartment and set the microphone in the middle of the room.  One might argue that this is more of a personal archival moment than an actual song… but let us consult John Cage, and we’ll see what he would say about it, my friends!   This is a composition of life continuing to move even when we’re gone.  It is, for me, at the same time relieving and humbling.

I will be recording the rest of the week at this old location as I have the apartment until the end of the week (I had some dreaded overlap, and you never want that in New York, but, alas, so it is), and then I have to leave for good.

I’m not sure if I will get this opportunity again this… as I have moved out most of my things, only my recording equipment remains…No one in the building is bustling or playing music or slamming or singing as they usually do.  My harpist friend, Bridget Kibbey, lives right above me.  I will miss her practicing music I have come to know very well because she plays it and plays it, and all the vocal exercises I can hear through the walls from my next door neighbor who does musical theater (that’s been entertaining), and the quiet humming of an elevator (when it finally gets going, that is) originating from sometime in the 1920s.

Sentimental: YES.   A bit melancholy: SURE.  But I have spent the morning moving the last few things out and have spent the afternoon in my new room creating a corner just for my shells and ocean pictures on new walls that will be happy to take more holes to hold them.

What is happening in this song: I cut it to start when I shut the door to leave the room.  I walked down the hall, got into the elevator.  I munched on a piece of rice cake and peanut butter.  I wandered downstairs, looked at my name on the mailbox, walked past my super’s door, and rode back up the elevator.  When I entered the room again, I was careful to make noises just as I would as if it were any other day; as if I was just coming in from taking my dog out for a walk.  I walked to the kitchen, asked her to sit, and gave her a treat for doing so.

When I listen I can hear car horns, which is pretty average, but I can also hear the wind through the “forest” of trees on the rock outside my windows.  I can hear the airplane engines overhead ready to land at or leave La Guardia Airport.  (I’m far from it, but you can still hear them.)

Poor photographic evidence of the view from my front room.