HAPPY VALLEY A historical tale in picture, word and sound In the book Happy Valley, the story of the unusual and rich history of Bistra is full of different sounds. But did you ever ask yourself, what is sound? How do we hear? What is the mechanism of hearing – and what is silence? Probably not, because we can h ear sound without putting in any effort. However, it is always good to know the basic facts. So here we go... SOUND To put it simply, sound is everything that we hear. It is the result of a mechanical movement caused by natural elements or by the activities of humans. It is our lifetime companion and is present everywhere, although we may not be always aware of it. Close your eyes and prick up your ears. You will be surprised by all different sounds you perceive if you are focused just on listening. HEARING Hearing is a very sensitive sense that enables the perception of sound. It helps us communicate, discover the world around us and warns us of danger. We can hear what we can't see, and we hear even when totally unaware of doing so – in our sleep. Did you know that people do not perceive all the sounds that are in their environment. Some animals, like dolphins, dogs, cats and bats perform a lot better than humans in being able to hear far higher or lower tones. When the museum doors close behind the visitors and the sky sparkles with stars, something magical happens. Bistra rests in silence and you can only hear the distant sounds of night birds and the murmur of clear water. It is almost as quiet and mysterious as it was when the silent monks lived here… EAR The credit for being able to hear goes to an apparently simple, but in fact a rather complex organ – the ear. The outer ear, which is the only visible part of the auditory system, directs sound through a special canal to the middle and inner ear. All parts work together and send sounds to the brain, which interprets this and then tells us what we are hearing.