Sound Journal: Ringing

Last week I mentioned creating a sound journal as part of a listening practice and to improve your aural intelligence. So I thought it would be a good idea to give some examples of how to do this by keeping a public diary of sound. Hopefully, this will be good for both of us.

Today, I decided to open up my thesaurus and see if I could improve my auditory vocabulary. Beginning with the word “sound,” I was led to a synonym “sonance,” which I don’t believe I have ever used before. Drilling down further, I settled on a sound word to explore, “ring.”

Ringing is an adjective in the class of resonance.

the quality in a sound of being deep, full, and reverberating : the resonance of his voice.
Physics: the reinforcement or prolongation of sound by reflection from a surface or by the synchronous vibration of a neighboring object.

Ringing is having or emitting a clear resonant sound. If we think of sound as pictured by a waveform, we can imagine visually seeing the sound’s amplitude moving between a positive and negative extreme, or peaks and valleys. This is a perfect metaphor for visualizing how language interacts with sound. Words that describe sound will have antonyms that describe it’s opposite pole. The word “clear” implies that sound can also be “muffled.” Therefore, with any description of sound, we can put that description somewhere on a continuum.

Clear ← → Muffled
Audible ← → Inaudible

Here’s a list of words to describe the sound quality of ringing:

ringing, pealing, tolling, belling, sounding, chiming; tinkling, tinkly, tingling, jingling, dinging, donging, knelling, clangor, clanking, clanging, clink, tink, ting, ping, chink, clank, clang, jangle, jingle-jangle

Now, take a moment with each word and imagine a sound that has this quality. How does “chink” sound different from “clank”? How does “jingle” sound different than “jangle”?

Taking the time to experience these sounds will help you to memorize the words that describe them which will help you not only communicate a sound to someone else, but to have a more refined experience of sound yourself. Where most people will only hear something ring, you will know that it is actually a ding. 🙂

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2 Responses to Sound Journal: Ringing

  1. tokyodawned March 21, 2007 at 9:00 pm #

    I like this. I’ve always enjoyed semantics, and the fact that most “synonyms” have subtle but meaningful differences in the way they are perceived.

    Not exactly what I was expecting when you mentioned Sound Journal. Thank you for that.

  2. Graham English March 21, 2007 at 10:43 pm #

    Glad you liked it. I learned a lot from doing the exercise myself. 🙂