Sounds and Stories

Maha Abdelmoneim @maha4learning : I have an unquenchable thirst for learning and for sharing what I learn, that stems from an ever inquisitive mind, a sense of wonder that I hope I never lose and a genuine, strong interest in people and in helping them find new ways. Currently working as an independent consultant, I’ve been in the field of Learning and Development since 1992 as an instructional designer, trainer and coach. Just a few of the things I love doing and/or exploring are Teaching and Learning in Virtual Worlds, learning and teaching languages, photography, experimenting with Web tools, playing World of Warcraft and making corn cake (this is new).

Frankfurt train station

Frankfurt Airport Train Station By zug55 under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0

Several weeks ago I saw Laura Ritchie’s tweet announcing her new online course about music.Calling all musicians! Come join is!

I was immediately curious. I decided to take a look at the content of the course and perhaps sample parts of it that I find interesting to me as a music amateur. I don’t think I had really thought about what I expected to find in the course, but the first session had a couple of interesting surprises that changed how I listen to the world around me.

Like many, I already had a general idea about how some places are acoustically better than others. I knew that how a space is built affects how everything sounds within it — I am sure many of us experienced the frustration of not being able to understand a word of what is being announced in some places, like an airport or a train station; but I discovered much more about acoustics and sound listening to the audio file Aural Architecture (a 26 minutes long, very interesting and informative audio. If you are pressed for time listen to the first 5 minutes. and save the rest for later) I learned that everything around us has a distinct sound, that we actually hear our spaces, walls and all, even if we don’t consciously realize it, and that we can learn to hear more of our surroundings. As Laura says:

“Listening is a skill, and just as people may say someone has developed ‘an eye for detail’, being able to hone in listening is a valuable skill that can be developed and refined throughout learning.”

As a first step to train our ears to listen and hear more, Laura has a task that inspired me to pay attention to the sounds around me. I am quoting part of the task here and you can see the complete description of the task on Laura’s blog.

“Task: Capture your experience of the surface of sound around you. Choose a place and create a soundscape using your phone or another recording device. Before you make your recording, take a photo or video of the place and take time to really be aware of what you are recording and how the sounds are woven or collide to form that canvas. Write a full description of the place, including photos or videos if possible, and list all the sounds you have captured – do this right away so you have everything fresh in your mind.”

I didn’t participate in the task online but I got very involved in the experiment for days, and I still do it whenever I remember or notice something new. I went around my apartment and my terrace with my phone, recording different normal daily activities and spaces.

Here are three examples of sounds that I captured from my terrace.

Street vendor 1

This is a street vendor in Cairo calling “Bekkia” . This is short for “Robabekkia” which is not an Arabic word at all. it is originally from the Italian “Roba Vecchia” and means Old Things. Those vendors go around buying and selling any used things — except glass, I discovered. I realized what they are saying because I speak Italian but most Egyptians don’t have a clue where the word comes from, they only know what it means. I wonder how it got to us?

Street vendor 2

Man pushing gas cylinders

Bharat Gas Bike by Meena Kadri under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0

This picture is of an Indian vendor, not an Egyptian one, because I couldn’t find any from Egypt — something that I need to remedy :) , but ours are almost identical. They go around banging on their tricycles to announce their presence to the residents who still use cylinders — most buildings now have piped natural gas.

Early Morning

This is what I hear sitting on the terrace, in my favorite corner, very early in the morning, as early as 5 or 6 am, depending on when the sun starts to come up and the birds start to chirp.


Chair and plant pots on a patio

This picture is taken later in the day.

Soooo, it’s your turn now.


Listening Ears

My Listening Ears by Niclas Lindh under CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0

Put on your listening ears and switch on whatever sound recording device you want. Record some sounds from your daily activities, your surroundings, your world. Listen to them and see what you find. Tell us some Stories with Pictures and Sounds, in text or with your voice or both. Use any tool you like, experiment with a new one, shout out if you want to learn a new tool and would like some company learning or want to collaborate with a bunch of us. Learn, create, enjoy and don’t forget to share. :)

An Activity: Make Writing …Digital

We hope you will share your work across the various Digital Writing Month spaces that you inhabit. That could be right here at the Digital Writing Month blog; at your own blog or writing space; on Twitter with the #DigiWriMo hashtag; in the DigiWriMo Google Plus Community; at the DigiWriMo Facebook page; or wherever you find yourself writing digitally.

2 thoughts on “Sounds and Stories

  1. Maha I love it! It has been so great to have you dip into the course and today I told the f2f students – you never know who you might reach when you do post and share. Today you reached me, and you have brightened my day! Thank you!! :)

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