The other night an old pickup truck was waiting for the light to change right outside my bedroom window. It’s engine revved unevenly, with fits and starts interposed into a few seconds of normal idling. I found the unpredictability of the sound to be soothing and soporific (that word was solidified into my vocabulary by Wit, a horrifically sad but well acted movie with Emma Thompson).
So many people I know use either fans or white noise machines to help them sleep. For them, the sameness of the sound lull them to sleep. It is the exact opposite for me. If the sound never varies, it is as if the volume is slowly increasing. I can’t ignore it – it is ever present.
I think this is why I can’t listen to songs while trying to fall asleep, especially ones I know: my brain always anticipates what is next and doesn’t shut down.
When I was in England, the stress of grad school caused many a sleepless night. Someone recommended playing classical music as I went to sleep. It worked like a champ! I wasn’t that familiar with it, and it didn’t have any voices for my mind to hang on to. Occasionally I would stumble across a melody that had been repurposed by Billy Joel, but after that passage had passed, out I went.
It was really nice having something that worked for me. It did become a bit unfortunate when I started taking advantage of student pricing for cultural events. I was able to get £30 symphony tickets for only £5!
I remember my first concert. I was all dressed up, and I had walked over to the hall from my flat. I took my seat about 15 minutes early so I could have the joy of watching the seats fill up – I love that! Finally the musicians came in and were seated. We all politely applauded the conductor. The lights dimmed, the classical music (it was a Mostly Mozart Night) began, and my eyelids became heavy. I hadn’t realized that the Pavlovian response wouldn’t only kick in when I was in bed!
I was not going to be the American who slept through the performance. That was when I learned that there is a definite visual component to a live musical performance. It was so much fun to watch the build up in the score by seeing the different instrument sections enter the glorious harmony.
Learning to have the concerts be a visual as well as auditory experience is what broke the classical music always equals sleep cycle, much to my entertainment pleasure.
Am I the only one who finds white noise distracting? or Has anyone else watched a symphony?