Good and Bad Sounds

Amid the intellectuality, let's not lose sight of the sensory.

Posted Dec 12, 2016

PublicDomainPictures.Net, Public Domain
Source: PublicDomainPictures.Net, Public Domain

We honor thinking more than sensing. And to the extent we value sensing, we mainly think of the visual, what we see. 

But sounds also can affect us, for good and for bad.

The following sampling may help you savor the good and be alert to the bad so you can more easily escape or distract yourself from it.

For each of the good sounds, I include a link to that sound.

The bad

Let's get the bad out of the way.

The idea for this article came while I was driving and heard three sirens: a fire engine's, a police car's, and an ambulance's. There's a sadness behind each: a victim of fire, crime, or illness.

I also heard the roar of a tricked-out car's de-muffled exhaust, That made me think of other sad car sounds, for example, the screeching of tires followed by the thud of an accident. Then there was the time I tried to start my car and all I heard was a click, signaling a dead battery.

Bad transportation sounds aren't limited to cars: There's the noise we hear on a subway train or the airplane overhead after midnight, waking us up.

That reminded me of other bad home sounds, for example, the thumping bass and screeching guitar sounds from the neighbor's party that wouldn't end: 11 PM, midnight, 1 AM. Then there was the bullhorn from the cops telling us to evacuate because of a nearby forest fire. I did but for no reason—the fire didn't come within a half mile of where I lived. And last and certainly not least, the sound of a rat climbing around in my walls. (See my article on that still unresolved problem.)

One more: loud restaurants. How silly to pay good money to get together with friends, yet you can't talk?

The good

A baby laughing

A baby's first word.

The sound for a school fire drill. (A break from schoolwork in which I got to go outside.)

A gentle stream.

Gentle rain when you're inside.

The crack of a baseball bat hitting a ball.


The rhythmic sound of your feet as you're walking, hiking, or running.

Bacon sizzling.

Your dog's sounds of contentment as you give a belly rub.

The sound of a basketball swishing through the net.

And of course, music, ah music. Three diverse examples: Clair de Lune, the overture to Oklahoma, and I'm Telling You (the most compelling live solo performance I have ever seen.)  I've assembled a longer set of clips of my favorite music for picking you up and calming you down.  Plus, within a few days, I'll be posting an article with links to my favorite Christmas YouTube videos.

The takeaway

Of course, this is but a sampling of sounds, offered as much to encourage you to notice the sounds you most and least appreciate. What would your list look like?

In any event, hoping you can muffle some of life's bad sounds and enjoy the good ones, not only of this season but many more to come.

And lastly, here is a link to an article that lists pleasant sensations for all five senses.

The 2nd edition of The Best of Marty Nemko is now available.