BEDLAM (ˈbɛdləm)
-n 1. a noisy confused place or situation.
Mysterious Hums – Collective Listening

There’s another aspect of the mysterious hum phenomenon that I find particularly interesting and it has to with characteristics of the noises being experienced and the relationship that listeners develop with both the noise and each other. When discussing their initial reaction when hearing a mysterious hum, people regularly make statements about wanting to know if other people hear it too. They express relief when they discover that others are hearing and feeling the sound as well. Once they know they aren’t the only one, they don’t feel crazy anymore.

What an interesting characteristic of a sound. When a sound is heard and the source is known, wondering if other people hear it too isn’t something that is even considered. If I’m home alone and I drop a pan, I’m probably the only one to hear it. That doesn’t make me crazy. With the mysterious hum noises, people need to be comforted by knowing it is some type of shared experience. Similar to that of a jet engine or train whistle. This results from the lack of a determined source, the frequencies involved and the sporadic timing and amplitudes of the sounds. They occur in such a way that the listener is in fact questioning wether they are hearing them at all or if they are the result of some other phenomenological occurrence. Like a ringing in the ears, listening being refocused to hear bodily functions or some type of neurological short circuit. Once a community of hearers forms, these concerns evaporate and the focus then becomes attempting to identify the source in order to address the issues raised by the noise itself. After all, it can be fully considered a noise once it’s heard by a community.







All content ©2014 Alex Braidwood unless otherwise stated.


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