When It Comes to Sound, the Rest is Art

Soundcloud is awesome for giving us a chance to stream advance listens of Wugazi songs and Flying Lotus outtakes, but the site isn't just a place to hear unlikely collaborations or tunes before their official release date. The company just released this video, titled "Sound," which makes a case for naming their platform "SoundCloud" and not "MusicCloud." Here they have folks like Moby, Imogen Heap and Radiolab producer/MacArthur grant recipient Jad Abumrad discuss how we perceive sound and the ideas about sound that go beyond songs.

The result is a three-and-a-half-minute meditation on the sounds around us and how we use them as both information and a way to find beauty in the world. Is an airplane flying overhead, or a lawnmower roaring in the background, or the screeching of a train horn, art? Well, maybe -- and that's what Moby, Heap, and friends explore in the video. "When you actually tune it in, and you listen to it, you hear pitches that are singing together, you hear harmonies, you hear weird textures," Abumrad says at one point, referring to what Moby calls "random, disparate noise and sound around us" -- the lawnmowers, squealing brakes, and birdsong. It may not be intended as art, but these are the sounds of the world, and the video makes an eloquent case that beauty doesn't have to be intentional in order to be present.