“Sound has a profound effect on the senses. It can be both heard and felt. It can even be seen with the mind’s eye. It can almost be tasted and smelled. Sound can evoke responses of the five senses. Sound can paint a picture, produce a mood, trigger the senses to remember another time and place.”
Louis Colaianni, The Joy of Phonetics and Accents
Back Of The Net
Boot-leather thuds ball. Crowd silences in anticipation for split second. Ball rasps against net. Crowd erupts. Not only the rarity of such sounds in a match makes it so special, but football’s timelessness and universality is why we call it our ‘common language’. In the space of 90 minutes it may divide us, but over time we are united in moments like this to be able to say ‘I was there’. All past misery is forgotten, and nobody can take that joy away from you.
Being the oldest and most prestigious Grand Slam, there is a certain deference people pay to watch the world’s best tennis players battle it out. Light ripples of applause dissect points and are thwarted by the call of ‘fifteen-love’. During a point, sudden oohs and ahhs following a player’s remarkable effort or net cord may disrupt this cycle prematurely, but they are simply instinctive reactions; spectators of an individual sport empathise more, especially when the Wimbledon trophy is at stake. (Even more so to a Brit…)
Any collision of two objects travelling at 100mph towards each other is bound to sound fascinating. When a baseball and a wooden bat connect at the weak spot between the handle and barrel, there is enough pressure to splinter the wood, propelling the ball forwards along with shards and releasing a piercing cracking noise. Front-row onlookers, beware…
There’s something about human nature when it comes to hitting a target from long distance; at work, we substitute it with a scrunched up scrap of paper and a bin, edging further away to increase potential euphoria after sinking the shot, and we refuse to continue with our lives until this happens. It is also emulated by kids in their back gardens, imagining the fans’ screams echoing in the packed arena and rubber soles squeaking on pinewood floors. Uninterrupted by the rim, the sound of the orange orb passing through a few inches of knotted string not only sounds cool, but flaunts the skill of the shooter unashamedly.
Puck Off Pipe
As the world’s fastest sport on foot, decibel levels generated by men on skates with sticks and pucks are part of ice hockey’s attraction. It is never easy to spot the little black disc flying around the rink, but once it is slapped goalwards from distance past the goaltender’s flapping glove and pings off the post into the top corner, fans have something to cheer about. As for those annoying goal sirens…
Some sports prove their athleticism through contact. Rugby and American football are no exceptions. Whether it is the former’s shoulder-to-gut impact or the thunderous clash of pads of the latter, tackles resonate within stadia and spectators alike. Audiences draw sharp breaths and wince in hope that both players are unhurt, then go on to encourage the spectacle once more.
Bell & Buffer
Born in ancient Greece, boxing has long been the quintessential showcase of raw human strength. Now, no matchup is complete without the famous bell to initiate each showdown, and the atmosphere is brought to the boil even quicker with Michael Buffer’s famous crescendo.
Lobbing a thin-metal-pointy-thing at a corkboard may lack athleticism (most action involved is the typical tricep flab-flap), however you must credit the dexterity and accuracy of darts players in hitting a small rectangular target three times in a row. Its identity as a sport is hence disputed, but you cannot argue with the passion and excitement that the roar of a darts announcer fosters in its beer-saturated fanatics.
Get In The Hole
A quieter, more subtle sound, the simple draining of a putted golfball is music to the golfer’s ears. Whether it was preceded by shanks in the rough or straight from the tee, the echoed gargle of the conclusive stroke always sounds the same. Especially impressive when a 30-footer is sunk following spectators’ rising noise in anticipation as the ball rolls closer and closer.
Carving S-shapes at high speeds, whistling through the icy air, the slash of powder echoing off the evergreens; only the shred of skiers and boarders can justifiably disrupt the serenity of snow-covered mountaintops. Hearing a perfect ‘hockey stop’, where you abruptly turn 90 degrees to a halt and unfurl a billow of snow from underneath you, epitomises the necessary control of a rider, as well as the relief of not crashing…