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Gears You Hear

A prompt to encourage your practice of creativity this week from Riversider and local author Larry Burns.

Do you need a low stress way to include seven minutes of creative contemplation into your week? Consider this your helpful nudge towards a slightly more creative life. If it helps, come back every week for a quick hit of creative contemplation. Each week I’ll share a new nudge. It will include a Thing (T), a Place (P), and a Sense(S) for your focus, a TPS creative nudge.


Welcome back from last week’s fly-fueled adventures! Whether you created a buzzing soundscape, conducted a molasses versus vinegar experiment, imagined a world without flies, or captured the life cycle of these persistent insects, I hope you discovered the surprising creativity that even the most annoying creatures drop into our lives. Flies, with their crucial rolein the cycles of life and death, reminded us of the importance of breaking down old ideas to let new ones flourish. Flies, with their bothersome behavior, reminded me that even annoying things can be good for me.

This week, we’re shifting gears—literally and figuratively. Our creative focus is on the sounds that cars make in motion. Revving engines, screeching brakes, tires humming on hot asphalt, and those toyish, quirky cries of electric cars, the auditory world of car traffic offers a symphony of possibilities. These sounds, often heard but rarely contemplated, can serve as unique prompts for our creative minds. Further, these sounds can be felt in our bodies, giving us additional ways to observe sound interacting with our body. Let’s dive into the sonic landscape of cars and see where our imagination takes us.

  1. Auto Orchestra: Take a walk or sit near a place where you can hear a variety of car sounds—a busy parking lot, intersection, or even a car repair shop. Record engines revving, brakes screeching, and horns honking; use these recordings to create a unique piece of music.
  2. Stop and Go Poetry: Listen to the start-stop rhythm of traffic lights or the flow of cars over railroad tracks or a drive-thru. Use these patterns to inspire a piece of poetry. Perhaps each stanza can mimic the rhythm of acceleration and deceleration or the chaos of a busy intersection. Let the movement of traffic guide the structure and flow of your words.
  3. Visualized Vroom: Capture the essence of car sounds in a visual art piece - an abstract painting that translates the energy of a revving engine into bold brushstrokes - a digital artwork that represents the rhythmic hum of highway driving. You might even create a series of images that represent different car sounds—each piece a visual interpretation of an auditory experience.
  4. Choreographed Traffic Circle: Create a performance piece or a dance routine set to the soundtrack of car noises. Think about how the movements can reflect the sounds of cars starting, stopping, turning, and accelerating. This could be a solo endeavor or a group performance, and it’s a great way to explore the physicality of sound through movement.

Wrapping Up the Week:

As we immerse ourselves in the auditory world of cars, let’s appreciate the complexity and richness of the sounds that surround us every day. The hum of an idling gas motor, the rhythmic click of a turn signal, the blast of an 18-wheeler’s horn—each sound tells a story of motion, energy, and the ceaseless flow of life.

Did you know that the sound of a car engine can be as distinctive as a fingerprint? Car enthusiasts and mechanics often identify specific issues or characteristics just by listening. This week, let’s adopt that attentive mindset and listen closely to the messages of car sounds around us. By tuning into these everyday noises, we can find new layers of inspiration and creativity.

Whether you’re stuck in traffic, walking down a busy street, or simply sitting in your backyard, let the sounds of cars be a reminder of the constant motion and potential for new ideas. Embrace the noise, the rhythm, and the energy, and let it fuel your creative journey.

Together, let’s continue to explore the world around us with curious ears and imaginative minds. Here’s to finding beauty and inspiration in the most unexpected places and to the endless road of creative discovery that lies ahead.

This column written with the help of a customized GPT from OpenAI. If I can make one, so can you!

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