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A music lover on mute


August 2020


"Silence is a state of mind," Robbe speaks without hesitation during our Skype interview. He might be one of the most (noise-)tolerant people I have met so far, as he is rarely bothered by sounds and tends to find his piece of quiet wherever he goes. His secrets? 


"When I wake up, the first thing I do is switch on the radio. Then I leave for work and I wear my headphones. I listen to music 8 hours a day."

Can music be considered silence though? 

“Some people might say that silence is just the absence of sound, but in my opinion, it is more the absence of triggers and the absence of noise and other unnecessary things. 
I think it can be silent, even when the sound level meter strongly disagrees. Silence isn’t limited to the objective definition stating that silence is only below a certain amount of decibels.”

At this point, I was curious if Robbe can find some quiet outside of music - and genuinely enjoy it.


Quiet bicycle rides

"With me, it'll never be more objectively silent than it is when I'm riding my bicycle along the water. I won't even wear my headphones, as it's important to hear the traffic around you. It's also one of the rare moments where I'm not regularly checking my smartphone."

"The absence of noise and the absence of triggers from my smartphone are the value of cycling for me. Sometimes I use it to get away from it all.  Sometimes it's useful for putting your thoughts in order. Sometimes I'm just looking around while thinking of nothing, and I let myself be impressed by my surroundings."


The perfect auditory picture

"I associate each place with a sound. When I think of sitting on a terrace, I imagine the cosy buzz of people talking. When I think of home, there is soft background music coming from the radio. Wherever I go, the auditory picture mostly fits. And when it doesn't, it immediately feels like something's off. 

My favourite is going to a cycling race and hearing the simultaneous sounds of hundreds of bicycles. That auditory picture is just right. It's a sound with a strong collective power behind it. Those sounds make the difference from watching it on the telly. 

listen to Robbe's silence

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