MORE to BROWSE - Pages that might be of Interest

Saturday 1 June 2024

Thoughts from a Devonshire Farmhouse June 2024

Hello! Thank you to all who have joined the ‘please remind me about your newsletter’ email list (if you have stumbled upon this post and wish to have your name added, see below for details.)


Sound, do we take it for granted? How much – how often – do we pause to actually listen to what is auditorily (is that a word?) around us? People tend to think that the countryside is quiet, but it isn’t, the sounds are merely different to what you would hear in a town. And is there a difference between ‘sound’ and ‘noise’? Noise, I guess, is often something loud and irritating. Sound is... life.

I’m a Neil Diamond fan, and one of his songs that I like is Beautiful Noise, apparently, he wrote it while watching a New York street parade with his young daughters, one of whom exclaimed, “What a beautiful noise!”

I’ve chosen this YouTube video of New York to depict the song because it’s brilliantly put together by (I assume) an amateur. I’ve never been to New York, although I have driven past it. I saw the sun rise over New York as the car I was in crossed over one of the bridges when travelling from Long Island to Virginia.

I love the song because it has a good beat and creates a feeling of joy – but a busy city being a beautiful noise? Not for me it isn’t! A beautiful noise to my ears is a blackbird singing his heart out from the top of a tall tree as the sun sets, turning the western sky into an artist’s palette of rich colour.

The countryside has natural noise, sheep, cattle, birds, the wind swooshing through trees, rain drumming on window panes. The squelch of mud beneath wellington boots, the swish of tall grass against your legs on a hot summer’s day, the clop of horses’ hooves, the chug of a chuntering tractor. The buzz of bees...

Voices are sounds that can create feelings of different kinds from intense love to incoherent rage – well perhaps not the voice itself, but the words the voice projects, calm gentle words of affection or friendship v tense words of anger or hate.

Words, sometimes spoken in haste without thought or attention that can shatter a relationship beyond repair, or words of grief or regret accompanied by heartfelt sounds... the gulp of tears, the aching sob of a heart breaking.

In other countries, those sounds that bring abject fear – the whine of a bomb or the tramp of enemy soldiers’ boots. For those of us who do not have to hear them, be truly grateful.

Sounds that remind us of home, sounds that bring back memories of childhood or that special, special event. Those of us who can hear are lucky for we have our hearing. How many of us wonder what would be worse to lose? Hearing or sight?

My husband is going deaf (and he will not wear his hearing aid!) Drives me mad. I say something, he says yes or ‘mm’ so naturally, I assume he’s heard. Of course he hasn’t, as I discover later. (And he will insist that I didn’t tell him.) The other side of this is the loud TV. Has it ever occurred to you just how loud bloomin’ westerns are? (Those of you who have read my cosy mystery A Mistake of Murder will recall one of the elderly characters liking to watch westerns on TV... now you know where that bit of inspiration came from!)

Music is a basic sound that I doubt many of us could be without. It doesn’t matter what type of music, classical, opera, rock, jazz. Music is the coming alive of emotion. We need it to make us laugh, help us cry.

The first of the  new series of Dr Who aired recently on TV, (I’m reserving judgement on the new Doctor for now. David Tennent was by far the best, and a hard act to follow.) The episode was about going back in time to witness The Beatles recording their very first album (Please, Please Me 1963)  ...except they weren’t, as some dastardly baddie (Maestro) had stolen all music, so apart from the very basic, no music existed. I was reminded of Beethoven who wasn’t (going against popular belief) completely deaf but mostly heard through vibration. (I must add, the plot had flaws, not the best Dr Who episode in my opinion, but as a 1960s avid Beatle fan, it brought back memories.)

A world without music? As the Doctor pointed out, that meant no singing, no dancing, no romance, no parties! What else would we be missing? No choirs, no film soundtracks, no rhythm – maybe no poetry. No rock ’n roll.

(For non-Dr Who watchers, it was OK; John Lennon and Paul McCartney saved the day by jointly playing the lost chord on a piano, and thus broke the spell.) 

The Lost Chord  By Arthur Sullivan

Seated one day at the organ,

I was weary and ill at ease,

And my fingers wandered idly

Over the noisy keys.

I know not what I was playing,

Or what I was dreaming then;

But I struck one chord of music,

Like the sound of a great Amen.

It flooded the crimson twilight,

Like the close of an angel's psalm,

And it lay on my fevered spirit

With a touch of infinite calm.

It quieted pain and sorrow,

Like love overcoming strife;

It seemed the harmonious echo

From our discordant life.

It linked all perplexèd meanings

Into one perfect peace,

And trembled away into silence

As if it were loth to cease.

I have sought, but I seek it vainly,

That one lost chord divine,

Which came from the soul of the organ,

And entered into mine.

It may be that death's bright angel

Will speak in that chord again,

It may be that only in Heav'n

I shall hear that grand Amen.

Is Leonard Cohen's secret chord the same? 

The fourth, the fifth, the minor lift...?  Hallelujah

Writing songs that no one shared

  The Sound of Silence  Disturbed 

(I can, sort-of, play this on my piano. Scarborough FairThe Skye Boat Song and Moonriver being my other partial triumphs.)

What music or sounds would you particularly miss? For me, it has to be the sound of the wild birds in my garden.

lege feliciter
(read happily)

Previous Thoughts from a Devonshire Farmhouse

I also have a monthly journal on my website

Thoughts from a Devonshire Farmhouse 
to receive an email reminder of each new post
simply email me and ask to be added to the subscription list

you can ask to unsubscribe at any time
all information is for my own, personal, use and will not be shared or forwarded

*** *** 

You might also like 

books written by me


Amazon Author Page: 

(Jan Christopher cosy mystery #5) 


  1. A lovely and thought provoking newsletter. Thank you.

  2. A great reminder not to take our sense of hearing for granted; apart from screeching city noises and nagging spouses (not you, Helen), one would miss so much.

  3. Waking up in the middle of the night to hear the owls hooting... Walking out in the early summer morning and listen to the cuckoo. The sound of teh wind in the large chestnut, the sound of rain on a tin roof. The sound of people laughing, while in the distance someone is playing a waltz on an accordion.

    And I just love that version of Sounds of Silence... I sang it at my graduation, yonks ago. And I still sing--a lot! I'd miss not hearing people sing...


Thank you for leaving a comment - it should appear soon. If you are having problems, contact me on author AT helenhollick DOT net and I will post your comment for you. That said ...SPAMMERS or rudeness will be composted or turned into toads.