Memories and Sound

Sight. Smell. Feel. Taste. Hear. These are the five sensory gifts we have been blessed with so that we may enjoy life to the maximum possible extent (with no offense of any sort intended to those with any form of disability). How do they help? Aside from their obvious unique functionalities, they also share a special connection that we all utilize but rarely realize: They bond with our memories.

Welcome to the 23rd post of Narrating The Dream where the topic in discussion is the bond that exists between sound and memories.

Let me start with the simplest example. You are walking down a crowded street and someone calls your name. You recognize the voice as that of someone you know. Did you notice how the sound and memory connected with each other? That quality of sound is stored in your memory as of that person’s and you only need to hear that sound again to remember the person. Similar is the case with other sounds, once you remember the source of it, you associate the memory and it together. Whether it be of a child recognizing the mother, thunder signifying the possibility of rain or anything else, there is always a connection that we have in our mind that links sound to memories.

This, however, is a small scale view of the relationship. There have been countless instances where I have observed that the sound, and not sight, becomes the dominating factor in storing things as memories. Let’s turn to the example of movies. Suppose that there is an intense scene going on in the movie and there is a song/tune playing in the background during it. I have observed that it is often the sound that I heard during the scene that triggers my memory quite well instead of just a simple attempt at recollection. In my head, that sound is now associated with that particular moment of the movie and I will always think of it whenever I now hear it. (Caution: Though a side-effect will be that people might consider you crazy for listening to only tunes or songs when you are only using them as aids to remember something that is amazing in your eyes.)

I have conducted no surveys or studies but my own experiences – in observing myself and others at different random times – support this concept or observation or whatever you might want to call it. We remember the tunes and the sounds that help us remember the emotions and intensity of the times when we had otherwise heard the sound. Normally though, I have also observed that unless the memories don’t get linked to a single sound. There is a competition (sort of) where only the most impactful remains to be the first to be recalled whenever we listen to that sound again. The rest don’t fade away but require a little effort to be recalled.

So tell me, have you ever experienced something like this? Or do you think this is a crazy post? If you have any incidents outlining the link between memories and sounds, please do so below if you wish.


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