The Sounds of Autumn
Harvest Moon – Neil Young
I chose this song, written by Neil Young and found on iTunes, to begin the playlist largely in part to its title and the lyrics within it reference the fullness of the moon during the fall season. The Harvest Moon is the full moon that occurs in September, most often right around the autumnal equinox late in that same month.
Early Autumn – Ella Fitzgerald
This is a classic approach to the fall season, sung by Ella Fitzgerald. Its lyrics describe the feeling of “early autumn”:
“When an early autumn walks the land and chills the breeze
and touches with her hand the summer trees,
perhaps you’ll understand what memories I own” (AZLyrics).
Wind in Leaves (soundscape) – Relaxing Sounds of Nature
This soundscape was found on Youtube, and perfectly encapsulates the iconic fall sound that is wind rusting through the changing leaves. In its original form it is a lengthy soundscape, so I chose to trim down the recording using QuickTime Player so that the recording was more accessibly but still communicated the serenity created by such an autumn sound.
Blue Ridge Mountains – Fleet Foxes
Being from the South, whenever I imagine fall I think of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. When looking at any mountain range during the changing of seasons, it is easy for the eye to see the gradual change in color and landscape that occurs. The acoustic and folksy instrumentation and the lyrics of this song, which I discovered on iTunes, remind me of the mountains themselves.
Autumn Town Leaves – Iron & Wine
This song’s lyrics focus on the movement of nature during fall:
“Mice move out when the field is cut
Serpents curl when the sun comes up
Songbirds only end up where they’re goin’
Some get rain and some get snow” (Genius.com).
Crunching Leaves! (soundscape) – Michael Balaski
The sound of crunching leaves is another iconic sonic element of fall, whether one is traversing through a forest or walking along a sidewalk close to trees shedding their leaves. I located this soundscape on SoundCloud.
Stranger Things – Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein
This song marks a transition in the playlist into October, the Halloween season. The day is a well-known celebration, offering an excuse to dress up in costumes, eat candy, attend parties, and get into a bit of a spooky spirit. This instrumental song, found on iTunes, exemplifies the October transition well, especially due to its origin as the theme for extremely popular Stranger Things Netflix series, which is one that revolves around spooky storylines.
Thriller – Michael Jackson
An iconic Halloween song if there ever was one, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” sourced from iTunes, has become a seasonal classic. The song serves as a narrative that occurs on Halloween night, and utilizes various sound effects (screams, creepy laughs, etc.) to really communicate the Halloween theme.
Sweater Weather – The Neighborhood
Though the title may be self-explanatory for its relevance to the autumn season, its lyrics reference the familiar attire associated with fall. Far beyond the title of this song, though, “sweater weather” is a popular phrase used around fall-time (notably and hilariously on this SNL skit, too).
Crackling Fireplace (soundscape) – Virtual Fireplace
I acquired this soundscape via Youtube. The sound of a crackling fire is one that signals cooler weather; the fall season often brings about the first fires of the cold season. Whether the fire takes place in a home fireplace, or outside at a bonfire, the crackles, sizzles, and warmth felt by a built fire is instantly recognizable, and imparts warmth and comfort.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Perry Como
I have included a Christmas song (via iTunes) to signal the transitionary nature of the fall season. Yes, autumn means that summer is over, but it also means that winter and the holiday season will soon be upon us. At the first sight of colder weather, department stores begin to blast Christmas music throughout the aisles, and even begin selling holiday decorations. Indeed, fall means that “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”
I am grateful for the opportunity to create this capstone project as a playlist; music has always carried tremendous emotional value for me. I am a musician myself and have always tended to use music and songs of various forms to mark significant events, moods, and seasons of my life.
The end result was slightly different that what I had originally intended. I had originally thought that this playlist would be created from a more personally-driven perspective, but I found myself desiring to broaden that idea and appeal to more audiences. Throughout the planning process for the project, I began to think about words and feelings that are associated with the autumn season, and I even considered different activities that I participate in around this certain time of year. I determined a few key aspects of the autumn season: the changing of leaves; the disappearance of summer; the beginnings of winter; the crunch of leaves underfoot; the fall harvest; Halloween; the building of fires; an autumn breeze; the wearing of sweaters and jackets.
I made intentional choices to include both lyrical and instrumental songs, as well as quality soundscapes that accurately portrayed certain sounds of fall. In terms of songs, too, I chose to allow most of the songs (with a few exceptions) to be acoustic and folk-driven. Something about that type of music reminds me of mountains and transitions of seasons; there is an element of comfort and homeliness that I often find within them. When determining the song choices, I used a loose set of guidelines to discover their relevance to this playlist, including title, genre, overall theme, and lyrical content. The soundscape discovery was, to my surprise, the most research intensive piece of this project. It was not easy to find quality soundscapes that encapsulated exactly what I was aiming towards in terms of various sonic elements.
I utilized iTunes for all of the actual songs, and both SoundCloud and Youtube for the soundscapes. I chose to cite my sources by embedding links in each individual annotation to provide easier and simpler access. After finding a couple of the soundscapes on Youtube, I utilized an online tool to convert the soundscapes into mp3 files so that I could embed them within this blog.
Overall, I enjoyed this project. It allowed me to be creative in a way that I have not been throughout other Rhetoric & Composition courses. I believe the project to be a successful one that encapsulates the feelings and emotional states surrounding the season of autumn.