There is power in the written word

– Abraham Lewis

Each Sound Carries Meaning

– Sean Botha (PhD)


Brené Brown says, “words matter” (08 February 2022) and I love it. The main reason is because we assign meaning to the words and language we use, no matter where we go or who we speak with in our daily lives.

I am a researcher, composer and storyteller with a great love for film and bringing controversial topics to the table. What makes my work stand out from others is, I look at life through the lens of sound and silence. It was my PhD project which brought these subjects to life and simultaneously, I was steered towards the sciences. Specifically, Physics.

Before we start down the Physics path, I would like to start at the beginning, quite literally and figuratively. When we look at the word ‘beginning’, we are quick to understand that we are talking about where something may have started. Where and when the Universe came into existence, we even question of God’s existence.  When we look at life, it could be anywhere or anything and some us believe in God, some of us do not.  Let’s steer our thoughts towards the topic of Sound for this argument to take shape.

My research was grounded in and around the subject of spectromorphology. Spectromorphology (Smalley, 1997) is considered a descriptive tool which assist the musician to describe sound. Describing sound wasn’t the focus of my work but it did help me to delve deeper into  how we analyse and define texture. This meant considering the beginning/onset, continuation and ending/termination of sound and silence. Unbeknownst to me, I started listening and with such detail that I was able to find lessons about life I never would’ve encountered otherwise.

Let’s get to the point:

Every sound, it doesn’t matter who creates it, or where it comes from, has a beginning, continuation, and an end.

Every sound has colour, tone, depth, shape, and energy.

We can say the same about silence.

Every silence has a beginning, continuation, and end.

Every silence has colour, tone, depth, shape, and energy.

The question is, which of these sound events or silences were here before us? Sound or silence?

My last question which I can answer for my readers is this: does sound finish, terminate, or end at all? No, it doesn’t. Each sound travels into places and spaces we cannot hear with our conscious mind.

Sound, no matter what shape, form, colour, depth, tone or energy it takes on, matters the same way than words.

Each sound holds answers, and each sound tells a story. Silence does the same and is a topic which I will delve into further in this series of short musings.

Explore a bit of music on Youtube by clicking Here

Sean Botha

18 February 2022