Recorded 4:50 PM (PDT) on May 16, 2020 on iPhone at Lake Poway Park.
Lake Poway Recreation Area is the closest park to where I live. The lake serves water supply to nearby resistants, while the park contains an archery range, a baseball park, picnic areas, fishing and boating areas, and hiking trails. Its a little crowded on a Saturday afternoon despite the coronavirus pandemic.
This recording captures the soundscape of a typical afternoon at Lake Poway park. The sound of birds and nature sounds form the background, with occasionally a bird or two breaking into the foreground. Sounds of people can be heard when they enter a closer proximity to the recording spot. Due to my unfamiliarity with bird calls, I can not identity the species of birds 1 and 2 labeled in my graph.
I completed missed the unknown sound in the graph when recording. In my mind I have associated it with wood hitting something and I had suspected it to be boats hitting the dock, but they seem to be too far away for that sound to be captured.
Recorded around 5:43 PM (PDT) May 11, 2020 on iPhone in my kitchen.
This is a recording of the sound of cooking with my dad doing meditation chanting in the background. It is an interesting sound combination one would perhaps associate with the kitchen of a Buddhist temple, but it is a unique soundmark of my family observable daily around dinner time.
I classified this as a soundmark for several reasons: the first one being its uniqueness. I have yet to come across a similar soundscape anywhere else. It also serves as a representation of our family culture, where spiritual practices (the chanting is derived from Buddhist meditation chants using the vowels ah, oh and uh) are found mixed in with daily life. A third reason is the consistency. Since I went back home in March, I have found this soundmark to appear everyday around the same time consistantly. It also serves as a signal to alert family members that dinner will be served soon.
This soundscape was recorded around 3:30 EST on Thursday, May 14th from inside a patio of a house in the suburbs of Lake Worth in Palm Beach County. It was recorded on an iPhone XR with the Voice Memos app.
Imagine standing outside on a patio overlooking a stream separating another line of houses. To me, this recording is like observing the sounds of nature from a “bubble” that is my house, where I have spent the majority of my time in since leaving campus. Ever since we had stay at home orders and less people are out, I’ve noticed that there are more sounds of nature when you go outside, now that less cars are on the roads and less people are present at a given time in general. The main soundmarks I observed in this snippet are two different kinds of bird chirps, the ambience of the water in the stream, as well as a faint barking of a neighbor’s dog in the vicinity. You can also hear the couple times I adjust my grip of my phone, altering the audio a tad bit. Based on the shifts in volume of each sound, I can guess whether the sounds from the animals are going closer to or farther away from me. Also the main volumes of each sounds were based relatively off of the ambient water noise, as some sounds are almost indiscernible without close attention to the sound, while other sounds notes are very apparent.
This soundscape was taken in a place characteristic of the Claremont experience: the village. At the intersection of Bonita and Harvard N Avenue in front of Rio De Ojas, you can hear a variety of soundscapes. With my phone as a recorder, I stand in the tranquility of the night as sound marks of the square trickle into existence. At the beginning of the recording, you can hear the keynote of the calm ambiance of lamps and the wind. Later in the recording, you hear cars passing by and the infamous train sounds. These sounds are characteristic of the village and Claremont as a whole and are most identifiable by Pomona south campus residents and I would argue that they represent the soundmark of the village at night. Sound signals also exist in the recording. An example would be the sound of the train horn and laughter from pedestrians.
This soundscape comes from Westview Drive in Hastings, MN next to the 18th hole of the Hastings Golf Club. The recording was made at 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday, May 14th, 2020. The recording device used was an iPhone 6 held at about waist level.
This location was a significant place for me to record as it represents the sounds I hear at my home, which is farther down the street, as well as the sounds that reflect the current status of my community. Living near the golf course, many of the sounds in my environment are related to the activities that go on there; there are more traffic-related sounds during popular golf times, there are often voices of people walking on the path around the course, and there aren’t as many “nature” sounds as the entire area is developed.
The sounds in this particular two minute soundscape do reflect this environment. The sounds of lawn mowers and grass trimmers are very prominent in this recording, an auditory record of the maintenance happening at the golf course. Archetypes of a golf course include the sound of a ball being hit and the sound of golf carts, but perhaps evidence of the course’s physical appearance are a forgotten archetypal sound. There are also sounds indicating that this was taken in a neighborhood, such as a car door being shut early in the recording and voices of a woman and a child. One of the last sounds in the recording is the mail truck’s brakes squealing as it turns the corner, a sound in the foreground which is a familiar sound to this neighborhood at this time of day, six days a week. Two sounds heard in this recording classified as “signals” are a car horn signifying a car being locked and the distant sound of the siren of an emergency vehicle warning other vehicles and people to get out of the way. Throughout the recording, the keynote is the birdsong heard both in the background and with more prominent chirps along with rustling of leaves.
Recorded on iPhone recorder. I stood still and held my phone as I recorded.
About the recording:
This soundscape was recorded in the nearest “main street” from my house. It was a rainy evening, as the sound of cars running on the wet street and raindrops on my umbrella suggests.
MacBook placed on dining table. Recorded on audacity.
About the recording:
This recording is a typical sound I hear every day as I do my work in the living room. The most significant sound is my dog running around on the floor. Half of the living room has wooden flooring and the other half has a rug; whenever my dog moves around and his nails hit the wooden floor, it makes the sharp clicking sound, whereas when he is on the rug, it makes a duller, blunt sound. The dog growls at 0:23 and his breathing can also be heard intermittently. The footsteps at 0:49 my dad walking down the stairs. The thud at 1:04 is the sound of my dad closing the shelf door. These sounds are what I hear every day and have integrated into my daily lifestyle. Although the sounds are not consistent and rather noisy, I do not find it distracting—probably because I have gotten used to it.
Recorded on MacBook audacity. I stood still and held the laptop.
About the recording:
The soundscape was recorded at 8 AM, on a street in front of my house. There are bird calls in the background; the most conspicuous, high pitched bird call is the bohemian waxwing. The black-faced bunting and the oriental turtle dove (common birds in Japan) can also be heard faintly in the background. It is easy to ignore these natural sounds, and this was the first time I have ever tried identifying these chirps. I was surprised by the variety of birds that lived around my neighborhood. This suggests that the bird calls may be considered a keynote in this area, as it is a normal part of our lifestyle. Other than the birds, the soundscape is rather quiet —probably affected by the pandemic. Other audible sounds are the wind and a distant car sound. There was not a significant presence of people based on the recording, but there was a person walking with a steel bucket in a far distance (the metallic sound at 0:15 is when he put the bucket down).
The soundscape was recorded with a OnePlus 7 Pro smartphone sitting on a table in the park. The location was Morgan Park in Baldwin Park CA. Specifically I was sitting at a table right next to the flag poles that are in the center of the park. This park is central to the city of Baldwin Park as it is only down the street from city hall and also hosts its own community center. It is not a very large park but has a playground, basketball court, space to play other sports, and walk dogs. Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic the park was usually well occupied during the the weekends and evenings with teens playing basketball, kids playing on the playground, and people just hanging out. However, the soundscape is much different during the ongoing pandemic. While there are still a few people at the park sitting and walking dogs, the sounds of activity, voices, and any kind of play are missing. This lead to the quieter sounds of different birds chirping, cooing, and squawking to be heard in contrast with the sounds of cars going down the adjacent street and metro horn indicating its arrival and departure. At the end of the recording a dog begins to bark relatively close to the recording location dominating the last few seconds of the recording indicating there is still some activity in the park.
Near Sammy’s Beach Road, East Hampton, New York. May 10th, 5:39pm. iPhone Xs max with thin cotton cloth draped over microphones.
The recording was taken a little ways off the road in a nature preserve near Sammy’s Beach in East Hampton. The beach is part of a peninsula which buffets and protects Three Mile Harbor from Gardiner’s Bay to the North. The area has a lower density of fauna relative to the rest of the town with a large number of small shrubs, cattails, and reeds in place of deciduous trees which can be found only a few hundred yards down the road. The proximity to Gardiner’s bay and lack of large vegetation means that this area is much windier than others, as can be heard throughout the recording. The Eastern tip of the peninsula is a protected nature preserve home to various animals including the endangered Piping Plover which nests there during this time of year. The calls off various songbirds can also be heard throughout the recording, the most prominent and easily identifiable being that of the Red-Winged Blackbird. The Blackbird’s warbly “ok-la-leeee” stands out in relation to the chirps and whistles of other birds and is a distinctive soundmark of North-Eastern estuaries and coastal areas. As the recording was taken in relative proximity to the road several cars and trucks can be heard. Despite the quarantine and particularly cold weather this year, Sammy’s Beach is still a popular spot for beach goers and is a well known end/turn around point for cyclists and joggers including myself.
This soundscape was recorded at 4:30 pm on a Friday afternoon from outside the window of an apartment near the Santa Monica pier. It was recorded on an iPhone using the Voice Memos app.
The soundscape is reflective of the current state of quarantine. This apartment is situated within walking distance of a big tourist attraction that is usually heavily trafficked – the Santa Monica pier. This area has many stores and restaurants catered to tourists. However, due to quarantine, there is often an eerie silence that envelops the atmosphere. That makes this recording of the soundscape an anomaly because it includes a dialogue, albeit faintly heard, that extends almost from beginning to end. There seem to be a few people congregated together outside of the apartment engaging in a conversation (hopefully while maintaining social distancing guidelines). The dialogue serves as a signal of the soundscape, as it is not a typical trait associated with this soundscape during these quarantine times. While it would blend into the background of the soundscape normally, it actually stands out into the foreground in this situation and becomes a point of curiosity for the listener. There are also sounds of what I assume to be car doors opening and shutting at the beginning and towards the end of the soundscape; just like the dialogue, these are also signals. The primary keynote sound that lasts from the beginning to the end of the soundscape is bird chirping noises. For the most part, the bird sounds blend into the background of the other sounds and is an element that would exist in this soundscape even during “normal” times (even though they would presumably be less audible since there would be more/louder sounds). The soundmarks of this soundscape recording are vehicle noises, such as the sound of engine revving or cars passing by, as the apartment is directly on a major street. They are the soundmarks because the apartment is in an otherwise heavily-trafficked area, which would be filled with these sounds during normal circumstances. Here, you can also see the effect of the quarantine, as vehicle noises appear very few times in the recording. Overall, the soundscape recording evokes a certain sense of normalcy atypical of pandemic times, especially with the dialogue. However, considering how the soundscape would be very different and definitely more vibrant during regular times, it suggests that things are not so normal after all.
Location: Brenda Villa Aquatic Center, Commerce, CA
Recording setup: This sound was pulled from a video taken on an iPhone at the meet.
About the Soundscape: While this soundscape recording is very short, it is incredibly representative. First, this set of sounds in very archetypal for this location, as it is mainly used as a competition pool and the PP team only goes to this pool for this specific meet. Second, this is almost exactly the same set of sounds heard before/during every single race that occurs during this meet. Every race starts with the official, then the beep, and usually teams will cheer after the start of the race. This was taken during a high-stakes relay during finals, so there are a lot of people in close proximity of the recording. Brenda Villa is also the only indoor pool that PP competes in throughout the season, and thus the soundscape is vastly different from that which is heard at most meets during the season since the acoustics are drastically different.
Location: North Valley in Durango, Colorado (Glacier Club)
Recording setup: Voice Memos app on iPhone; thin cloth around phone to block some wind
About the Soundscape: Durango, Colorado is currently under a red flag warning, meaning that fire danger in the area is high due to warm weather, dry conditions, and high wind. This audio was recorded off a balcony/deck overlooking the golf course. When it is sunny, there is usually the noise of golf carts and maintenance carts on the course, trucks and cars on the road, and sometimes the distant voices of people walking or golfing. Due to the rain, however, there were no other sounds and no one was out. The only significant events in this recording are the noises of water collecting and falling off the roof. There is one area that collects a bit of water, before it becomes heavy and drops to the ground below. On a normal day, there are also lots of birds and other animals crunching through the leaves and making noises around the house but in the rain, all was quiet.
Location: Haldeman Pool (Pomona College, Claremont, CA)
Recording setup: audio taken from iPhone video
About the Soundscape: This soundscape was pulled off of a video taken from the stands at Pomona’s Haldeman Pool during a swim and dive meet in November, 2019. From where the person was sitting, you can hear the swimming portion of the meet happening on one side of the pool, and the diving happening on the other side. Since there were races going on, you can hear various names being yelled throughout, and can hear a sort of constant cheering through the whole clip. Most of these sounds would not be heard when walking past Haldeman on a normal day, but it is fairly typical of a Saturday when the team has meets. It is interesting to consider which sounds are heard day to day. For the athletes, the physical actions that they are doing are the same as in daily practice, so the actual sounds of the actions (like the diving board bouncing up and down, or the diver hitting the water) are frequently heard. The other sounds, like much of the cheering and spectators, are not present in everyday practice (at least, to the same extent). I spend much of my time at the pool diving, so this is a particularly significant location for me though the perspective of the spectator is not one I often have.
Recorded on a Zoom H5, trimmed and processed in reaper.fm
Device held in hand (hence some unfortunate buffeting—I’ll be purchasing a tripod for future recordings to avoid this)
On the border of my town Chelmsford, MA and Carlisle, MA, there’s an active cranberry bog. Each fall, there’s a wet harvest and the bogs are completely covered in cranberries—a moderately attractive tourist destination in the fall. The rest of the year, this conservation land is used for walking trails and wildlife observation. The full area is 310 acres with rich wildlife—beavers, muskrat, foxes, mink, various bird species, bass, and pickerel.
During the day, you can usually hear people walking and talking, dogs barking, and birds chirping. This recording was taken at night, so the soundscape is quite different. The archetypal sound is the spring peepers’ mating calls, an early sign of warming weather. There are occasional keynote sounds like the hooting of an owl, Canada geese, and what I think may be a red fox. Unfortunately, I’ve heard red foxes more and more the past couple years; their natural habitats are bring destroyed for new housing developments, so they’re moving closer to neighborhoods. There are also some man-made signals in this soundscape. The ticking of my car engine (cooling down after being turned off) is audible, as is a plane going by. There are also buffeting sounds of my fingers adjusting on the recording device. These take away from the soundscape’s immersion and are something I’ll be aware of for future recordings.
Location: Backyard of house 05/09/2020 1:15 pm, Bodrum, Turkey
Recording setup: An iPhone 8 was placed on the outside of a window frame, about 1.2 meters above the ground.
About the soundscape: The recording was taken in the backyard of a house located near a moderately busy street. It was a rather open space, only surrounded by trees and neighboring two-story houses. Multiple cars passing by and some speech of the neighbors can be heard intermittently. These are the two most frequent sonic events, as can be seen from the spectrograph. The most prominent sound throughout is the chirping of the birds, which is the archetypal sound of this house in spring and the keynote of this recording. The soundscape also features the very complex sound of “ezan”, which is a call to prayer in Islam. Its cultural and historical significance makes it a soundmark. It is an archetypal sound of Turkey, heard in every city multiple times in a day. Moreover, it qualifies as a signal, as it signals both the time of the day and that it is time to observe the daily worship, to its listeners. One interesting sound heard at the very end is the rustling of the plastic grocery bags we hung outside for disinfecting them before we take them into the house, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Other than that, all the other sounds are present in lockdown times and non-lockdown times alike. There is a breaking of sound in the middle of the recording, likely due to a dysfunctioning in the microphone. There are also some sounds throughout which are difficult to identify, which might be people in the street moving around and carrying things.
Location: Cresta Verde Golf Course, CA 92879 at 12:56pm on 05/08/20
About the Soundscape: Founded in 1927 by Randolph Scott, Cresta Verde Golf Course is located at 33°53’19″N, 117°32’32″W in Corona, CA and stands today as one of America’s 500 oldest courses. The 18-hole course is brought to life by its various archetypal sounds, keynotes, and sound signals, including bird chirps, wind (which is particularly strong due to its elevation and vicinity to the freeway; it was captured and weakened with a small drawstring cloth bag over the microphone), wind chimes, driving golf carts, golfer chitchat, and the obvious hitting of a golf ball. For this particular project, these sounds were all documented at hole #1 nearby the driving range at 12:56pm. Unique to Cresta Verde, however, are its soundmarks found just outside of the clubhouse, which include the chatter of general manager Mehee and the white noise of the freeway due to its key and convenient location. One may easily spot the iconic course from the intersection of the 15 and 91 freeways!
As I spent more time in my house, I became almost hyper aware of the all the background and intermittent noise that fills my house, from the ticking of the clock to the noises of the keyboard, paper turning, etc.
I recorded this a little past midnight on my phone. I slowed down on the side of a road to take the recording, hence the faint clicks and whirring of the car motor. The strongest sound is the chorus of Spring peepers, little frogs whose “chirping” signals the beginning of Spring. Here in Massachusetts, they just started their mating calls this week.
Sounds of city life in early spring from the fifth floor balcony of an apartment building in Lincoln Park, Chicago. In the early morning one can hear birdsong, cars and city busses, bicyclists, dogs and people in the park across the street, and the wind. There is less traffic in this soundbite due to the decreased driving during shelter-in-place, and there were more people out and about in the park enjoying the warm weather for this same reason.
It started sprinkling outside today. It’s windy as usual in Hood River (a town in the Columbia River Gorge), and there are birds as well as the sound of cars passing by on the road, and trucks in the orchards nearby.
On Monday, March 9th, 2020, Professor Cramer and I went to Bridges Hall of Music to record balloon pop sounds in order to measure how reverberant the space is. In order to formulate a clearer picture of the soundscape, we did the recordings in three separate locations: at the center of the stage, at the back of the hall, and upstairs on the balcony above stage Left. In doing so, we can compare the amount of reverb in each space. The results are as follow:
At the center stage, the reverb is actually the shortest in duration out of all three locations. It lasts for about 1.7 seconds before starting to fade away. This is most likely because there are the walls are far away from the center of the stage; however, the impulse response did not bounce off the ground as much either. This might provide an explanation to why performers on stage are not able to hear each other with great clarity.
2. Balcony above stage left
The reverb on this location is significantly longer than that of center stage; this impulse responses lasts about 2.5 seconds. This is potentially because we are closer to the wall and other wall-like surfaces, allowing the impulse response to bounce off of them. We hung the balloon out from the balcony and pop it while it’s hovering over the stage. This is why the microphone also picks up the sound of the deflated balloon pieces as they hit the stage, which is an undesired effect.
3. Back of the hall
This location, just like the one above stage left, models the auditory perspective of the audience. In this case, the reverb is also about 2.5 seconds. The reason for the longer reverb time from this location is that we were very close to the back wall, and the impulse response was able to bounce off that wall to become more reverberant. This might explain why audiences are able to hear the performers very clearly from this location, even though performers might not be able to hear themselves very well on stage. This in a unique and interesting property of Bridges Hall of Music.
4. Convolution Reverb
Now that I have analyzed the unique reverberant qualities of each of these locations in Bridges, I wanted to test how differently each reverberation affect music and sound production. I discovered technique called convolution reverb, which allows you to impose an impulse response – a recording of an acoustic space to an excitation of a signal, such as balloon pop – over sound recorded in a non-reverberant space to make it seems as if that sound was recorded in the space. An impulse response is stored in a digital signal processing system, and then convolved with another audio signal to create an entirely new audio file. Convolution is a mathematic process with the equation and graphical illustration below:
In order to create my convolution reverb audios, I used an application called Adobe Auditions, which has the convolution reverb feature built into its “effects” feature. The audio that I use to convolve with the impulse responses recorded in Bridges is of me singing the Gregorian chant “Ubi Caritas” in a very dry space with virtually no reverb (my room). I wanted to use a Gregorian chant to recreate the “solemn” feeling of Bridges. This is the original recording of me singing the chant:
Then, I imposed the three different impulse responses onto this audio using Adobe Auditions to create three separate recordings of me singing with reverb in the background. The results are as follow:
Using the reverb recorded from center stage
Using the reverb recorded from the back of the hall
Using the reverb recorded from above stage Left
Upon comparing these three reverbs, I’ve noticed that they line up with the Praat graphs shown earlier. The recording from center stage sounds to me to be more muffled and less audible than the one recorded from the back of the hall. The recording from the back of the hall has the most audible reverb and is also the loudest. What’s interesting, however, is that the recording from above stage L is actually the most muffled and lowest in volume. However, the duration of the reverb at the end of phrases is noticeably longer than in the other two recordings. Note that these recordings are not artificially altered in any way.
This experiment is very interesting, because it models what it would be like to generate sound from each of these reverberant locations, even more so because these are all locations within one concert hall. There are noticeable differences between the reverberated audios in each location; each location in a concert hall is acoustically unique.
Just for fun, I also used an impulse response recorded by a few Youtube vloggers and sound engineers at supposedly the most reverberant space in the world – Inchindown oil tanks in Ross-shire, Scotland The result is as follow:
Location: Coop Fountain 2/28/20 5:58 pm, 37XP+QH Claremont, California
Recording setup: The microphone was set up on the back table alongside the south windows. It was pointed toward the register at the front of the Coop (on the east side).
About the Soundscape:
This recording was taken in Coop fountain right before closing. The building is comprised of two conjoined rooms divided by a wall. Both the spaces are filled with tables, chairs, booths and sofas. The southern room also houses the kitchen. The outermost walls on both sides are almost completely glass. Students were studying as well as ordering food before the kitchen closed. The most prominent feature of the soundscape is the music that is playing over the speakers. The music, as well as the chattering, would be the archetypal sounds of the Coop. As Coop is a very busy location, it is possible to hear the doors opening and closing as people enter and exit. The speaking of the students is also heard intermittently throughout the recording, but it is difficult to decipher more than a few words at a time as the background is very loud. The dialogues are heard more as mumbles. There are also various sounds that are hard to identify, which are mostly people moving things around (pushing chairs, dropping books etc.).
Recording setup: The TASCAM recorder was placed on the lifeguards’ table on the east side of the pool near the entrance. The TASCAM recorder was pointed towards the pool.
About the Soundscape:
This recording was taken at Pendleton pool during free swim hours on Saturday. About five lap-swimmers were in the pool at the time of the recording. These lap swimmers created the splashing noises that can be heard throughout the recording There was also a softball game going on at the softball diamond next to the pool. Faint music and cheering can be heard coming from this game. Occasionally, the splashing from the pool gets louder as the swimmer in the lane closest to the recorder moves to do a flip-turn on the wall. Two of the lap swimmers on the far side of the pool can be heard talking. Their voices sound more echoed compared to the voices from the softball game. This is because Pendleton pool is surrounded by concrete walls. The keynote and also the archetypal sound of this recording is the splashing coming from the lap swimmers in the pool. The cheering and music from the softball game is a signal that someone new is up to bat or that a successful play was made.
Recording setup: The TASCAM recorder was set up on the south end of the pool deck, near the entrance, pointing towards the pool.
About this soundscape:
This recording was taken at Haldeman pool before the varsity team’s morning swim practice. The swimmers arrived and took the pool covers off the pool. The pool is surrounded by concrete walls, so the noises inside the pool reverberate.The door to the locker room can be heard opening and closing multiple times throughout the recording. The swim coach can be heard talking to swimmers as they walk on deck. There is a rumbling sound coming from water rushing through the gutter of the pool. There are footsteps sliding across the deck as the swimmers move to take off the pool covers. Metallic clicking sounds come from the pool cover crank being dropped and kicked by one of the swimmers. The reel for the covers makes a loud metallic rumble as it rolls across the pool deck. Morning doves call out as this happens. The key sound is the rumble coming from the water rushing in the gutter of the pool. When no one is in the pool, this sound is especially audible. The archetypical sounds from this recording are of the pool reels being moved around because every swimmer knows these sounds well as they prepare to get into the pool. The voice of the coach greeting the swimmers acts as a signal because they are about to begin practice.
Recording setup: This recording was taken from a 3rd-floor window in Smiley dorm. The window was facing west toward the Smith Campus Center and the TASCAM recorder was on the window sill, pointed out the window.
About the Soundscape:
Very few people were wake at the time, but a group of three passed under the window. Their voices echo as they enter the hallway near the SCC since the space is reverberant. Cars can be heard throughout the recording as people commute on 6th street. The crows that often sit in the tree outside the window can also be heard calling at the beginning of the recording. Later in the recording, another voice can be heard as a student walked under the window talking on the phone. The keynote of this recording is the street sounds since they are constant throughout. There are bird sounds and rustling leaves throughout the recording that could also be considered keynotes. The archetypal sounds would be the students talking since the recording is from the window of a dorm room on a college campus.
Location. The walkway is wide, with a few trees, picnic tables, and small lawn spaces flanking both sides (in front of the dormitories). Small, unpaved pathways branch off the main walkway and lead to the entrances of each dormitory. The area is usually occupied by any number of students; however, because the recording was taken at a later time of night, the area and its soundscape have a fairly subdued quality. Beyond the stretch between the two dormitories, the area surrounding the walkway is generally open.
About the soundscape. The description provided below was written to reflect a Friday night during a heatwave in early September, while the present clip was recorded on a Sunday night in mid-October. I’ve chosen to keep the unaltered description here because this temporal juxtaposition reflects both the dynamism and thematic continuity of the soundscape. Listen, and compare.
The walkway that spans the distance between Pomona’s Frary dining hall and College Way road is a central feature of Pomona’s landscape. Situated between Walker and Clark V dormitories, where upperclassmen traditionally live, it lies at the heart of North campus. Being the main means of access to academic buildings, dormitories, and the dining hall, this walkway is usually occupied by any number of people. It’s normally a fairly subdued area, aside from passing conversation and the bell tower that chimes every hour. However, the atmosphere varies greatly depending on time and day. The soundscape I will describe here begins at around 10:30 pm on a Friday night, outside Walker dormitory.
The whirr of fans turned to the highest setting emanates from open dorm windows, mixing with the muted rustle of leaves in a faint wind and the hum of distant cars. Subdued music can be heard, most likely leaking from an open window. Window blinds are clicking softly in the wind. These sounds comprise the keynotes of the soundscape; they disappear from consciousness unless one actively listens for them, and yet are indispensable to the soundscape as a whole. The occasional buzzing of an airplane overhead and faint splashing from the Bosbyshell Fountain the in front of the dining hall are a step up in salience, but fall into more or less the same category. An occasional train horn blares in the far distance, and every once and a while a passing skateboard rumbles by on the sidewalk—noticeable, but not demanding attention.
The most distinctive aspect of this soundscape, however, is not the characteristic sounds of a still night. It’s a Friday; at 10:30, groups of people are beginning to appear on the walkway, on their way to a party or perhaps just walking around. Loud conversations and laughter come and go in the sonic foreground as people pass by, the sounds apparently amplified by the concrete sidewalk and buildings on either side. These signal noises evolve as the as the night progresses, and the soundscape with them. As people begin to head back for the night, their voices become slurred and inflected, and laughter rings louder—clear evidence of some form of intoxication. Every once and a while, a passing group will sing off-key to the cheers of others, or even walk up to the entrance of Frary just to hear their voices reverberate. As the night gets older, the soundscape evolves again; the number of people thin, and with them so does their laughter and cheerful conversations. The atmosphere equilibrates, eventually returning to the cool color of a quiet night.
The term “keynote” as used in this context was coined by R. Murray Shafer in “The Soundscape,” reprinted in The Sound Studies Reader, edited by Jonathan Sterne (London and New York: Routledge, 2012), 95–103. Shafer describes a keynote as the “fundamental tone” of a soundscape which “[does] not have to be listened to consciously… [and is] overheard but not overlooked.”
The term “signal” as used in this context was introduced in R. Murray Shafer’s “The Soundscape,” reprinted in The Sound Studies Reader, edited by Jonathan Sterne (London and New York: Routledge, 2012), 95–103. Signals are, as Shafer puts it, “foreground sounds that are listened to consciously,” which thereby convey some message or meaning to the listener.
Location: Frary Dining Hall Stage at Pomona College
Description of the space: Frary Dining Hall is the largest dining commons at Pomona College. It is an enclosed building with high ceilings and wooden furniture. There is also a large stage at the west of the building with a three steps leading up to it. The ceiling in this specific stage is a little domed-shapes and a feel ridges. The bottom half of the stage is wooden, and the upper half is painted wood. There is also a fireplace at the center of the stage that is about 8 feet wide and 8 feet tall.
Recording Setup: The balloon and microphone were placed at the same level of about 4 feet high off the stage floor at the center (in front of the fireplace). The balloon pop and microphone were about 3 feet apart from one another.
The Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creative, known as the Hive, is a space on Pomona devoted to promoting collaboration and creative, nontraditional learning. This is reflected in its physical image, as well as its soundscape.
The building has a ground floor with two large and connected central rooms, one of which holds classes, the other serving more as a communal gathering space, with couches, tables, and whiteboards. All Hive spaces are remarkably rearrangeable. Overlooking these central rooms is the second floor – really more of a balcony. Since the main first floor rooms are open at the top to the balcony, it’s easy to hear what’s going on in there, and even join in.
In its efforts to bring collaborative creative to the 5Cs, the Hive hosts academic classes with collaborative focuses, helping professors bring those qualities to their courses. Hive classes are characterized by their groupwork and discussion. This specific recording is of the Human Centered Design class, a class that had been practicing how to tell and how to listen to others’ stories for months when the recording was taken.
This recording was captured during the Human Centered Design Class (~2PM) on Wednesday, 11/20. The class was taking place in the first room, and the recorder was placed on the floor of the balcony, in the alcove closest to the classroom, and angled towards it. During the recording, the class was performing a warmup of sharing “Lemonade Stories”.
The soundscape was interesting as an observer, but it seems as though participants would experience it differently. From my second floor vantage, I could hear everything, but I got a muddled burble of conversation as a keynote, rather than coherent speech as signal. Despite not being able to pick out individual speech most of the time, laughter came across pretty clearly a couple times, signaling that the community has a value on play and humor within their work and stories. In addition, students were clearly listening for the signal of the instructor’s instructions, as the sound shifts gradually when she tells them to switch (53), and stop (120). I wouldn’t say that any of these sonic qualities are particularly unique to this soundscape, but they do seem typical of collaborative spaces – conversation is necessary for collaboration, after all.
 In the field of Sound Studies, a “keynote” sound is a background aspect of a soundscape, that doesn’t need conscious attention, such as a low hum. The term is introduced in R. Murray Schafer’s piece, “Soundscapes and Earwitnesses,” reprinted in Hearing History: A Reader, ed. Mark M. Smith (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004), 100-101.
 In Sound Studies “signal” refers to a sound that needs to be consciously attended to – a “foreground” sound. The term is introduced in R. Murray Schafer’s piece, “Soundscapes and Earwitnesses,” reprinted in Hearing History: A Reader, ed. Mark M. Smith (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004), 100-101.
From a distance, the bell tower is the first thing you notice about the area. The bell rings every hour during the day. One can hear it from a distance. It is unique to this area and may therefore be considered as the soundmark of this area. When the area is not crowded, one can hear the soft pitter patter sound produced by the water fountain. Which gives the soundscape an ambient sound that can help one relax and meditate. During different times, different sounds can be heard. Birds in the nearby trees, squirrels jumping from one branch to another. Students riding their skateboards, bicycles or just walking. Students heading to Frary dining hall for a meal. People laughing, talking, running, playing different types of games such as basketball and volleyball. People playing musical instruments at Walker beach. Pomona college employee driving carts or nearby construction trucks. Depending on the time of the day, the area produces a sound that is unique and rich. Due to the variety of people passing by, one can hear different sound signals as mentioned above. This area provides sound that is a combination of human-made sound and sound made by nature. It can be soft, ambient, loud or aggressive.
Location: Dividing the Light skyspace installation, west side, Pomona College, Claremont, CA
Description of the space: The Skyspace is a permanent architectural installation by James Turrell consisting of of a square courtyard enclosed by metal columns surrounded by palms and ferns, and encircled by the Lincoln-Edmunds academic building. The roof of the space has a square opening in the center to allow viewing of the sky. There is a large square fountain
Recording setup: The balloon was placed approximately two feet from the west edge of the central fountain, three feet above the ground, with the microphone placed at the same height three feet away from the balloon.
30 dB decay: 0.3 sec
40 dB decay: 0.6 sec
Decay to background level: 0.4 s
Minimum: 3.6 s
The balloon pop provides an interesting picture of the Skyspace’s reverberance. The pop seemed to have a certain richness to it–a richness that would not be present if the space was fully enclosed. This semi-enclosure in terms of walls and other hard surfaces being present, but spaces open to the outside also being present led to a unique auditory perception of the space. The sound was also scattered by various small objects, like the benches. Moreover, not only did the sound of running water underlay the balloon pop itself, but it was also evident in the reverberation. In essence, an integral part of being inside the Skyspace is noticing how sounds (from the water and otherwise) reverberate, and this characteristic was made particularly evident from the balloon pop.
Location: Front of Coop Fountain. Located in the first floor of the Smith Campus Center. Pomona College, Claremont, CA.
Space Description: The Coop Fountain in the Smith Campus center is a normal-sized establishment. It is comprised of two rooms, divided by a wall, used as a display, that almost separates the two completely. Each room has a set of booth-style tables, chairs and tables. Located at the front of the restaurant is the kitchen and grill. The back of the restaurant includes the office of the general manager. The sides of the establishment are covered in windows and doors. The recording took place at 3:15 PM on September 14, 2018.
Recording Setup: The balloon was blown up to about 18 inches and held about 4′ off the ground, and about 3′ away from the recording device. The balloon itself was held outside the Coop Fountain , next to an open door where the recording was on the other side of the open door, inside of the establishment.
Total drop: < 30dB
25 dB decay: 1.1 sec
Acoustic Description: The Coop Fountain in the Smith Campus center is a open establishment, where sound travels throughout. There are not any areas where an echo of any sort is really present or prominent. The openings along wall that separates the Coop into two rooms, allows sound to travel seamlessly throughout the establishment. The Coop Fountain derives its sound mainly from its metallic doors, general kitchenware and background music; all of which layer themselves on top of each other and forces listeners to hear each sound individually in order to uncover them all.
Center of the dance floor in Pendleton Dance Studio, Pomona College, Claremont, CA.
Description of the space:
The Pendleton Dance Studio is large and open with a high pointed ceiling, and the walls block out sound from the outside. One wall is completely covered in mirrors, one wall is covered in windows showing to the pool outside, and the floors are made of wood.
The microphone and balloon were held at the center of the dance floor, about three feet apart.
Reverberation Time: 30 dB decay: 0.5s
60 dB decay: doesn’t reach
decay to background level:
(Analyzed using intensity graph function in Praat)
Acoustic description: Sound in this space quickly drops and is deadened by the same thick walls that keep out sound. Sound drops 30db in 0.5s, almost as quickly as it arrived, and it continues to drop as quickly until it is at the level of its usual background noise. This keeps echo and residual hum to a minimum, probably an intentional move by the designer of the space, since overlapping sounds of dancers moving across the floor would detract from the more visual qualities of it.
I recorded the soundscape on Parents Field right below Green Beach on a Saturday afternoon, specifically on December 8th starting at 2:45pm.
This area lies right outside of Green Hall, one of the dorms on Claremont McKenna’s campus. As a resident of this dorm, Green Beach lies right outside of my window, so I am extremely familiar with this soundscape. For this recording, I set up the TASCAM recorder at the edge of Green Beach so it could pick up sounds from both students relaxing in the grass and students playing soccer down the field.
The most prominent sounds in this recording emirate from the students playing soccer down the field. The keynotes of this recording would be the low murmur of the students talking to each other as they’re playing soccer, as well as the music being played in the background. While the music sounds faint in the recording, from the position of the recorder it could be heard fairly loudly to the human ear. One sound signal that occurs in the recording several times is the soccer ball being kicked aggressively towards the goal. Another sound that occurs multiple times is the various exclamations from the soccer players. These sounds are another signal of something exciting happening within their game. Because of my experience with living in this dorm, I would consider the music playing in the background to be a sound mark. Most of the students who live on Green Beach listen strictly to electronic dance music (EDM), so most of the music that plays in this area falls under that genre.
The day this recording was taken, humidity was high and this affected the quality of the sound in the recording. I processed the recording using notch filters and noise reduction in Audacity.
Location: Frary Dining Hall is located at the North side of Pomona College’s campus close to Claremont Mckenna College. It is located near the clock tower and next to the residential area of Pomona students.
About the Soundscape: On the premise that food is one of the basic necessities for human life, Frary Dining Hall is a critical component of the 5C ecosystem. Considering that a majority of the students at our small consortium is on a meal plan, Frary’s soundscape says much about the atmosphere of the 5Cs. Frary’s high ceilings, wooden interior, and long tables make it a dining hall experience unique at the colleges. It’s also worthy to note that this dining hall has a large amount of students who are doing work and eating alone compared to others, perhaps the soundscape of the environment can explain this.
When listening to the soundscape of this dining hall, the keynote sounds are the people chattering, the lights and cooling system rumbling, and the sound of metal utensils and plates hitting each other. These sounds are constant in Frary. These noises although so loud, become the background of the dining hall; everyone is accustomed to it being this noisy. When any one of these keynote sounds, especially the people chattering, is not present, I experience a very uncomfortable sensation. This is because people are typically accustomed to hearing these keynote noises when they enter Frary. These keynote noises can be compared to the coffeehouse chatter that many people find relaxing to listen to which might explain why people enjoy studying here. Furthermore, the indistinguishable nature of many people’s conversations occurring simultaneously even creates a false sense hood of staying hidden.
The signal sounds include occasional uproars of laughter/ screams and chairs moving. The soundmarks of Frary are when certain items fall to the ground. This produces a loud echoing noise that permeates the entire dining hall. This sound is very specific to the dining hall due to its design. Whenever anyone dropped anything, especially a cup, the noise disperses so widely in the hall that everyone’s head turns to observe it. Combined, the soundmarks and signal sounds keep those who are working awake and alert The echo produced in the room also contributes to the lively atmosphere within the dining hall.
The Living Room, commonly referred to as “The Cube” is a silent study space on Claremont McKenna’s campus. The room has tile floors and is surrounded by glass walls and floats on a Mesabi black granite reflecting pool in the middle of the Kravis Center. The Cube is filled with comfortable armchairs and couches for students to do work in.
Recording Setup: The microphone and balloon were both held about five feet off of the ground in the center of the Cube, while no other students were in there (as not to disturb the silent study space). The balloon was popped about four feet away from the microphone.
Acoustic Description: The resonance of the space is likely attributed to the enclosed tile floor and glass walls. The balloon pop showed a 20dB decay after .6 seconds and a 40dB decay after 2.8 seconds.
Bosbyshell Fountain is located in Bixby Plaza, the courtyard just outside Frary Dining Hall at Pomona College. The fountain was flowing at the time of recording, which is why the sound does not reach -60 dB.
The recording was done with the TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder placed on a nearby bench. The 18-inch balloon was popped approximately 5 feet away from the recorder and approximately 5 feet off the ground.
30 dB decay 0.6 seconds
40 dB decay: 0.8 seconds
Minimum: 0.9 seconds
This is an open-air area with no walls. There are some trees, and most of the ground is paved, but some is earth. Consequently, the sound decayed quite quickly, but the background noise level was relatively high due to the sounds of the flowing fountain. The sound graph shows several echoes, most prominently (and audibly) at about 0.18 sec.
Posted by Hervé Iradukunda (PO) and Eli Fujita (PZ)
This balloon pop was taken October 31st, 2018, at 5pm. The location, Lyon Court stairwell, consists of brick and cement walls, with two linoleum covered stairways converging in a triangle at a carpeted landing, which then bifurcates into two similarly carpeted hallways. The ceiling stands approximately 7m above the bottom stair, and the stairway itself is only approximately 1.5m wide. Only one of the outer wooden doors was closed at the time of recording.
Time to drop 30dB: 0.5s
Time to drop 60dB: 3.98s (Only dropped 58dB)
Blew up balloon to a radius of ~.25m. Balloon was held about a meter from the ground, and 0.6m from the TASCAM recorder. Key was used at first but to no avail, scissors were used after to successfully pop the balloon. The sound was collected from the bottom of the east stairwell.
The longer reverberation time can be explained by the large amount of vertical open space as well as the narrowness of the stairs. Additionally, the hard linoleum finish on the stairs and the brick and cement walls could have added to the amount of reverberation, and consequent 30dB drop time. The graphs above show that the sound does not totally drop 60dB, which may be understood by the fact that a residence hall such as Lyon is subject to background noise, and the hallways above the landing could have continued to propagate the sound wave.
The Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum, affectionately referred to by students and staff alike as “the Ath”, is a place for intellectual engagement, water cooler conversations, and, most importantly, great food. Though the Ath is known best for its lunch and dinner speaker series– where specialists in a variety of fields come to the Athenaeum dining room throughout the week to talk about their theories and accomplishments– a quintessential aspect of many a CMCer’s experience is Athenaeum Afternoon Tea, or Ath tea. Held in the library of the Ath Monday through Friday, 3p – 4:30pm, Ath tea is the perfect midday pick-me-up.
Ath tea is held in a room with hundreds of books, a piano, and soft lighting. There are often people who play the piano at Ath tea, adding layer of performance to the general spectacle that is Ath tea. These cultural elements work to supplement the attendee’s experience, for there is no proper way to be to be able to get some sweets and enjoy music, as opposed to the Ath’s dining room programming which has a dress code.
There are certain signals1 that people who frequent the Ath, known as “athletes”, know very well and use to inform their conduct at Ath tea. There is the familiar sound of one of the student fellows exiting the kitchen, equipped with a tray of baked goods that will be gone in an instant if the listener does not act fast. Beyond this, there is the seasonally persistent phenomenon of tours full of potential future Stags and Athenas coming to the Athenaeum, and those people can devour treats like no other. The trained ear is attune to hearing phrases like, “And this is the Ath, here we have…,” for that indicates what would soon be the end of whatever goodies are still available.
For all that Ath tea has to offer in sugar and calories, its biggest asset is the small talk and light banter its attendees have there. This is a keynote2 of Ath tea for one never knows who they may run into at Ath tea; peers, professors, even President Chodosh have all been known to stop by Ath tea to get their sugar fix. This daily event is an opportunity for students to ground themselves in the presence of others, exchange pleasantries, and take themselves out of the high-stress environments they often put themselves into. For me, Ath tea reminds me of my elementary days, where a snack at 3pm was all I needed to believe that everything was right in my world.
1”Signal” is used in R. Murray Schafer, “Soundscapes and Earwitnesses,” reprinted in Hearing History: A Reader, ed. Mark M. Smith (Athens: University of George Press, 2004), 7. It represents “foreground sounds… listened to consciously”, examples of these are “acoustic warning devices.”
2”Keynote” is another term used in R. Murray Schafer, “Soundscapes and Earwitnesses,” reprinted in Hearing History: A Reader, ed. Mark M. Smith (Athens: University of George Press, 2004), 7. It “identifies the key or tonality of a particular composition”, so the one sound could be seen as most encompassing of a particular soundscape.
I chose to examine the soundscape of the open courtyard right outside of the main entrance of Frary dining hall during the Pomona “snack” time. I thought that studying this specific moment and place would be fascinating because the area suddenly comes alive with sound, along with movement and energy, at around 9:55 p.m. as students come out of their study sessions to eat food together. Another interesting component of this soundscape is that it only replicates itself about 4 times a week during the school year.
A couple of keynotes anchor the soundscape outside of Frary.The fountain is the sound that I first identified. Naturally drawn to the sound of moving water, I found this sound very constant and comforting. It adds a tranquil bottom layer to the atmosphere of the open square, and it is fundamental to the acoustic design of the area. The next keynote I identified was the sound of bugs. Claremont hosts many crickets and wildlife that emit their songs out into the soundscape during nighttime. Their sounds evaporate into our subconscious, but they are present and help to define the soundscape.
Sporadically, different types of signals enter and exit the soundscape naturally.Because this area is central to many dorms and other buildings, the sounds of doors opening, closing, and creaking are very noticeable to any person in the area. Of course, human voices also are pretty consistent signals in the soundscape, and the voices and words are always changing. The entrance to Frary dining hall is designed as an echo chamber, and because of that, the texture of voices from inside of the arch is more resonant than the texture of voices in the open courtyard. In a way, these voices may also compose a soundmark for this area.
I found that the overall volume level for this soundscape rose and fell from around 9:55p.m. to 10:30p.m. Afterwards, the soundscape was stripped of most of the voices and doors.
The term “keynote” is introduced in R. Murray Schafer’s piece, “Soundscapes and Earwitnesses,” reprinted in Hearing History: A Reader, ed. Mark M. Smith (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004), 100-101. Keynote sounds are the fundamental tones of a soundscape that are created by the geography and climate.
The term “signal” is introduced in R. Murray Schafer’s piece, “Soundscapes and Earwitnesses,” reprinted in Hearing History: A Reader, ed. Mark M. Smith (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004), 100-101. Signals are foreground sounds in a soundscape that are often consciously heard by observers.
The term “soundmark” is introduced in R. Murray Schafer’s piece, “Soundscapes and Earwitnesses,” reprinted in Hearing History: A Reader, ed. Mark M. Smith (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004), 100-101. A soundmark is a community sound that is relevant to that specific place and time.
Location. Walkway spanning the distance from Frary Dining Hall to College Way, midway between Walker and Clark V student dormitories. Pomona College, Claremont, CA.
Description of the space. The walkway is wide, with a few trees, picnic tables, and small lawn spaces flanking both sides (in front of the dormitories). Small, unpaved pathways branch off the main walkway and lead to the entrances of each dormitory. The area is usually occupied by any number of students; however, because the recording was taken at a later time of night, the area and its soundscape have a fairly subdued quality. Beyond the stretch between the two dormitories, the area surrounding the walkway is generally open.
Recording setup. The microphone and balloon, approximately 3 feet apart, were held at 4-5 feet from the ground. The microphone (a TASCAM DR-40 recorder) was supported by a tripod, and the balloon was held manually.
30 dB decay: 0.4s
60 dB decay: Not measured
decay to background level: approximately 0.8 sec, although hard to tell with the background noise.
minimum: 0.8 sec
Acoustic description. The resonance in this space is barely perceptible, due to the relatively open area in which it was recorded. However, likely a result of the buildings that hem the walkway on both sides, a faint echo is audible at approximately 0.8,1.4, and 1.6 seconds. These reverberances are visualized as (faint) vertical bands on the spectrograph.
A former student has recorded the Rose Garden and has described it as a “silent” area, one that serves as “a quiet refuge from the noise of the campus”. I disagree with this analysis, and instead see the Rose Garden as a crossroads for much of campus life. As someone who lives by the edge of the Rose Garden, I can say that I have heard a surprisingly diverse range of noises enter my room through my two windows.
My room is located right next to a side entrance of the building, the “Rose Garden entrance”. The door beeps loudly every time students enter from this door, but even before that, I usually hear voices or footsteps of students approaching the door. The beeping door is probably the first thing I hear every morning. Later in the day, I can hear the loud rumbling of leaf blowers, and maintenance people working hard to keep the area beautiful. When the sun finally sets, especially on the weekends, the Rose Garden does not fade back into silence but instead becomes an intersection of many 5C students heading to, from, and through Scripps.
This is a recording of the Rose Garden on a Saturday night.
The soundscape that I chose to record is in Claremont Memorial Park, found on Indian Hill Boulevard and 8th street. The park is an important part of the history of the city and serves us a public space where people can come to enjoy nature and relax. It is quite big (spans the entire block between Indian Hill Boulevard and Yale Avenue). It is across the street from Sycamore elementary school and contains trees, a swing set, and a medium sized playground set. This variation in the (visual) landscape gives rise to subtle variations in the soundscape of the park.
This recording was taken on the side of the park that is closest to the elementary school. I recorded in the afternoon (around 3pm) when the students from Sycamore were leaving school, which resulted in a lot of car sounds and conversations being included in the soundscape that aren’t there at other times.
The archetypal sounds that can be heard in this recording include cars passing by on the streets, the leaves of trees rustling, and little kids’ voices.
Oldenborg Dining Hall at noon is a rich soundscape that clearly shows the human aspect of sound. On a surface level, Oldenborg is a clear example of how people across the world verbally communicate. Nowhere else on campus can one hear not only the sounds of people speaking, but speaking in so many different languages at the same time. On a deeper level, Oldenborg serves as a reminder that the majority of languages are sounds made and used by humans to communicate. The verbal buzz at Oldenborg captures just a few of the complex, unique sound-based systems that humans use to connect with one another, depicting the close connections that humans inherently have with each other and with the phenomenon of sound. Thus Oldenborg Dining Hall is a necessary addition to the soundmap of Pomona, as it showcases the diversity and importance of human-created sound in the form of language.
This recording was taken starting at 12:56 PM on October 29th, 2018 by one of the French tables located near the stage within Oldenborg Dining Hall. In the recording, one can hear people speaking French, the general background noise of people speaking different languages at the other tables, and people eating. The sounds of language can be fast and fluid when spoken by native speakers, or slower and more hesitant when spoken by beginners. Notably, at the time of the recording, people were beginning to leave the dining hall to go to class, so the volume throughout the recording gradually lessens. One can hear clinking plates and keys as people get up to leave. Eventually, everyone left the French table that the recorder was placed next to, and one can hear people speaking Chinese and English at other tables nearby.
In the recording, one can hear signals, sounds that dominate over the other sounds in the soundscape and are listened to consciously. These signals often occur in the form of laughter, singing, or of loud greetings between tables, when friends shout “hey!” to each other in different languages just to get each other’s attention for just a quick moment. Additionally, one can hear the keynotes of the situation—that is, the fundamental sound of a situation—which are the sounds of utensils and plates as well as the sounds of languages. The two intertwine to represent the key components of Oldenborg Dining Hall: food and language.
A noteworthy soundscape can be found on the soccer field in south campus Pomona. The grass field, sunken into a semi-bowl and ringed by trees, is removed from the din of quotidian campus life, but nonetheless contains its own sonic information. During a game, regardless of the fan turnout, the field is filled with a constant cacophony, at first seeming chaotic and at times frenetic. However, there is direction and meaning behind each sound, as is true with any soundscape. Potentially the most salient acoustic feature of the game are the shouts of encouragement, instruction and occasional scolding that ring out from a majority of the players and coaches on and off the field. Though they might seem overwhelming, each shout carries with it its own purpose, a communication that connects each player on the field to each other by solidifying team shape and organization and creating a psychological connection. This can only truly be appreciated by those who know the sport, as defensive or offensive tactics may not be intuitive, but rely on prior knowledge of the listener.
However, not all sounds on the field require their own context. Sounds of the referee’s whistle, or rises and falls of pitch that players communicate with imbue certain intuitive meanings. These signal sounds convey meaning to the listener despite the listener’s knowledge of the sport. The whistle, for example, carries an inherent significance of warning, and therefore is recognizable and deconstructable by any listener. The change in intensity of the whistle (86.1s) can provide the listener with a sense of the severity of the infraction, while the rise and fall of the shouts of the crowd or players can convey the emotional reaction to the event.
In addition to these knowledge-dependent and signal sounds there are some moments in the game with archetypal qualities, specifically in the moment before a long pass, or between a shot on goal and the subsequent goal. There is a moment, between the movement of the leg back and the ball forward, in which most shouting is ceased, no instruction commands the soundscape, and silence dominates. It is a moment like the moment between inhalation and exhalation, a pause before a rapid and inevitable outcome.
As in many soundscapes, there is always information and meaning to be gleaned, but often it is left unrecognized.
As is the case with any recording, this is merely a representation of the soundscape. Therefore factors like wind noise appear more salient in the recording than in the actual soundscape.
 The term “soundscape” is discussed by Emily Thompson, “Sound Modernity and History” (Cambridge, Mass: MIT University Press 2002) who argues that a soundscape is an “auditory or aural landscape”, making it both “a physical environment and a way of perceiving that environment”.
 The term “signal” to describe a certain sound in a soundscape was coined by R. Murray Schafer, “The Soundscape”, reprinted in The Sound Studies Reader, ed. Jonathan Sterne (London and New York: Routledge, 2012), 101. Schafer describes a signal as a sound that must be listened to “consciously”, like that of a “whistle or bell”.
 The term “archetype” in the description of a feature in a soundscape is provided by R. Murray Schafer, “The Soundscape”, reprinted in The Sound Studies Reader, ed. Jonathan Sterne (London and New York: Routledge, 2012), 100. Schafer describes archetypal sounds as sounds which we recognize from “remote antiquity or prehistory”, calling on a collective memory that conveys collective, deep significance.
Hixon Court is a spot on the western edge of campus by the entrance of Galileo Foyer, which leads into the Libra Complex and many underground classrooms. It contains the koi pond, the Venus Fountain, and several tables and choirs. It sits at a basement level, significantly below the main walkways of Harvey Mudd’s campus.
About the Soundscape
I visited Hixon Court on a Friday afternoon at 4:00 PM. There were not many students around, but it wasn’t entirely deserted either. For the majority of the time I sat there, I heard mostly planes overhead, traffic from the north on nearby Foothill Blvd, and the continuous splashing of the fountain into the pond. I would define the Venus Fountain as a soundmark, as the sound of the water that came from it altered the quality of the surrounding sounds.1 The water was not a continuous sound, but rather alengthy succession of short sounds that overlapped and varied in pitch. Traffic and airplanes are familiar sounds around most of the Claremont Colleges. To me the sounds mostly sound like low, continuous hums or whooshing noises unless they come quite close (especially the airplanes). The choppy quality of the water seemed to also chop up the continuous sounds of the traffic and the planes, interrupting their long hums.
In addition, the fountain seemed to have several levels of sound, mostly corresponding to the multiple tiers of the fountain itself. The water from the top tier’s spouts made up one level and bottom tier’s spouts made another. Both of these were steadier sounds, as the water came from the spouts in a mostly unbroken stream. This water also seemed to have a higher pitch, maybe because of the thinness of the water stream. Another level of sound came from water spilling in irregular sheets from the top to the bottom tier, and yet another cam from water flowing from the bottom tier to the surrounding pond. These were lower in pitch, again possibly due to the surface area of the water that fell, and was probably the main contributor the the aforementioned choppiness.
It was difficult to determine the direction of most sounds I heard from outside the court itself, but sounds from within were much clearer. While I was there, I noted that the few other visitors’ footsteps were quite crunchy due to the small drying leaves and purple flowers strewn on the ground. Footsteps outside the courtyard were inaudible—I could only tell that people were passing by above me if they were riding a skateboard, in my line of sight, or talking (though I could only hear voices, not distinguish words). The sound of a skateboard rolling over pavement is also quite familiar around the 5C campuses, but the first one I heard from in the courtyard I was unable to identify until I saw someone rolling by. The fountain drowned out most of the rolling sound, so that the only audible part was when the board crossed a crack or a bump. Without the context of the wheels over flatter pavement, the sound of the wheels going over a bump was strange.
I was also unable to identify the source of a low hum that could be defined as a keynote, as I didn’t realize that it was there until I had been in the courtyard for some time.2 While I was in the courtyard I thought it might just be part of the muted traffic and planes, but when I left I was able to distinguish the hums from one another. I believe that the softer hum was coming from climate control, lights, or a generator within Galileo Hall or the Libra Complex.
About the recording: It was made during a different visit on October 5, 2018. Fountain sounds are audible throughout; also a bird beginning about 0:55.
1 The term “soundmark” is discussed in “Soundscapes and Earwitnesses” by R. Murray Schafer, reprinted in Hearing History: A Reader, ed. Mark M. Smith (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004), 8. A soundmark, derived from the term “landmark”, is an integral sound- related aspect of a community, deserving of preservation because of the particular sonic qualities it lends to its community.
2 The term “keynote” is discussed in “Soundscapes and Earwitnesses” by R. Murray Schafer, reprinted in Hearing History: A Reader, ed. Mark M. Smith (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004), 7. Keynote sounds are sometimes unconsciously heard, the backgrounds of soundscapes that set their tones.
There exists a hidden space on the Claremont campuses, to the left of the humanities building at Scripps College, at the end of an arching row of olive trees. Walk hurriedly to your next destination and you will not see it; pass by after sunset or on the weekends and you will be denied entry. Three doors that lie in three separate corners serve as the entryways, although choose carefully since one has been mysteriously bricked off. This is the Margaret Fowler garden.
Entering through the green door located on the southeast end of the walled gardens next to the only sign indicating the existence of this space, you will encounter a small collection of orange trees. These trees dangle their fruits above a couple of tables and chairs lying next to a fountain on which is inscribed ‘incipit vita nova’ or ‘here begins new life’. The south wall is covered with murals of indigenous women, some of whom carry baskets full of lilies. A canopy of wisteria covers most of the garden, the home of small purple chandeliers and our first source of noise. It is quiet in these gardens compared to the rest of the campus. Entering them feels almost for a split second like an absence of sound, until you hear the birds singing from within the canopy above you.
The next sound to reach your ears is the babbling of the main fountain, which lies in the center of this oasis, opposite a statue of a woman holding a child. The birds and the fountain quickly become the Keynote1 of the scene. You have only been here a few minutes and yet the removal of their noise would render the scene foreign and the gardens less real. Various signals2 can be observed; planes fly overhead from the nearby airport, a golf cart from campus security hums nearby, and you hear the familiar sound of conversations passing around you from every angle.
All of these sounds are coming from outside of the walls of the garden. You can hear them, yet you cannot see their source. Perhaps this is the essence of the soundscape in these gardens; you can hear the distance that separates you from the outside world and its accompanying noises. Even when closing your eyes, you remain aware you are in an enclosed space. This is the ultimate attraction of the Margaret Fowler gardens, and to many this perceived distance from the rest of campus creates a sense of calm, one tied to the steady fountain and birdsong. Here begins new life.
1 keynote- the ‘ground’ of a soundscape, may not be consistently consciously heard but is omnipresent and crucial to the overall scene.
2 signal- the ‘figure’ of a soundscape, listened to consciously. (Schafer)
In general, the soundscape in Wig’s common room is integral to my experience at Pomona–the sounds surround me as I am working on homework, spending time with friends, or just simply relaxing on my own. Sometimes, I will practice jazz piano on the piano located in the common room, contributing my own unique aspect to the fullness of the soundscape.
The concepts of keynote, soundmark, archetype, and signal posited in R. Murray Schaefer’s work involving soundscapes are present within my Wig soundscape. Most importantly, the constant “drone” of students either socializing or collaborating on schoolwork is ubiquitous and serves as keynote. This “drone” provides a sort of foundation for the soundscape, as the common room wouldn’t feel very “common” if this aspect of socialization wasn’t present. The same droning, however, easily fades into the background and may even go unnoticed by many. Furthermore, signals–circumstantially purposeful sounds–are also present as the occasional beep of the front door being unlocked heralds people entering, and students yell to get the attention of others. Sterne’s idea of soundmark–a sound that has unique implications to those involved in the soundscape–is also present in the hall in the quiet humming of the air conditioning units, which represents to Wig residents an escape from the heat of the rest of the building. Finally, an archetype–an aspect of the soundscape which relates it to sociocultural implications–is present, as the general experience of college is represented through the archetypal nature of the soundscape as a whole.
As Sterne posited in his “Sonic Imaginations,” sound, and the study of such does not exist as an inward pursuit–it supplements and is supplemented by a plethora of other disciplines. As such, the soundscape within the common room of Wig Hall supplements and is is intrinsically connected to the general “college experience” that all of its residents have–sound is just one piece of the immense puzzle of experience.
Addendum: I wrote the description of my impressions of this soundscape near the beginning of the semester, but the soundscape recording itself was made over a month later. Naturally, then, a shift in the characteristics of the soundscape would be expected. The variety of sounds that was represented in my explication wasn’t present to the same extent in the recording–an important feature of this recording is the sound of a pool game going on. I initially described a soundscape where students were transitioning to college, but the recording itself captured students who were already immersed in the college experience.
The Skyspace structure, designed by artist James Turrell, is a large permanent art installation on Pomona College’s campus consisting of a square courtyard enclosed by metal columns which uphold a flat roof with a square opening in the center to allow viewing of the sky. The columns are surrounded by various palms and ferns, and three sides of Skyspace (north, east, and south) are encircled by the Lincoln-Edmunds building. The loudest feature of Skyspace is the central fountain, with its rush of water falling down the sides of the pool and into the depths below. The sound of the water is so strong that all other sound in the space is dampened by it. The fountain sound is the keynote of Skyspace: it forms the aural center and sets the backdrop for all other sounds in the space. All of these architectural and spatial factors serve to insulate the space so that the courtyard echoes with the sounds produced within reverberating across the space. Skyspace is lit each morning and evening with multicolored lights which paint a wash of color over the roof and change the viewer’s perception of the color of the sky seen through the roof’s opening. Although the lighting is, on first glance, the primary aesthetic value of the space, I believe Skyspace’s sonic qualities are equally important.
I entered the Skyspace at 5:45pm on a Tuesday night for the sunset program and sat down on the stone bench on the southwest side, near the western entrance to the courtyard. There were six people present besides myself at the time of recording: one group of three, a pair, and one person seated alone. The groups engaged in soft chatter as the sunset program began. Though some individual voices were distinguishable, the content of their conversations was indiscernible in the wash of sound, though some laughter punctuated the indistinct murmur. The sounds of people interacting with the art installation can be considered another keynote of the space, as this background noise gives shape to the space and “outline[s] the character of men [sic] living among them.”
A number of signal sounds were also present during the 45-minute duration of the sunset program. These included the loud whirring of airplanes overhead, the sound of which rose and fell in pitch as they grew nearer, and the occasional distant whistle from a train passing through the Claremont station. The door to Lincoln Hall emitted a high pitched squeal with each student who entered or exited, followed by a slow descending whine as it closed. Every so often, a student on a skateboard would ride past the south end of Skyspace on the walkway between the courtyard and Edmunds. The pavement of this walkway has a resonant cavernous quality when trod upon, and the skateboards riding over it created a thunderous noise as the wheels went over the fissures in the sidewalk.
The overall sonic atmosphere of Skyspace is quite loud, but the consistency of the sound, particularly of the fountain, creates a tranquil, white noise effect, muting the external environment in favor of the sounds contained within. The space serves as a sonic cocoon which holds its sounds close and then lets them flutter and bounce off of each surface. Overall, the Skyspace creates an intimate setting in which the wash of sound conveys an aural serenity to match the effect of its visual display.
Location: The Wilbur Courtyard is a small outdoor space. It is enclosed by four walls on adjacent sides, but there is no ceiling enclosing the space.
Recording Setup: The microphone and balloon were placed on the concrete floor of the courtyard.
Reverberation Time: 0.1 seconds
Maximum Intensity: 80 dB
Minimum Intensity: 60 dB
Acoustic Description: Unfortunately, the space has little reverberant qualities. I believed the space would be more reverberant due to the enclosing four walls. But it seems like the open ceiling allows the sound to escape and prevents the sound from reverberating against the walls. Additionally, our recording has a lot of wind which made it difficult for Praat to calculate when the pop occurred and when the sound drops. The image above illustrates how a lot of wind disrupts much of the recording and a 30 dB drop doesn’t seem to occur.
*The recording and image do not necessarily reflect all of the sounds written about below. The recording was taken on a Wednesday afternoon whereas the writeup was done on a busy Sunday afternoon.
The Scripps pool at the Tiernan Fieldhouse is a significant soundscape of the Claremont Colleges. I was here on a Sunday afternoon between 12:00 pm and 3:00 pm. There is a certain level of exclusivity to this soundscape, since only Scripps students and faculty are allowed to enter the pool at these hours. However, the recording was made on a quiet Wednesday afternoon. Some keynotes I noticed were the constant hum of the water filtration system, the bubbling fountain next to the pool, and the gentle waves created by swimmers. These place the listener in the atmosphere of a public pool. It is easy to tune out these sounds since we are so used to hearing them in such a space. Other keynotes include the wind rustling the leaves and the birds chirping occasionally. The mixture of nature-based and man-made keynotes reflects how a pool is a man-made construction with the qualities of emulating nature. The recording reflects these keynotes, however the recording lacks some of the signals that I heard on the Sunday afternoon.
Some signals I noticed included chattering voices (consisting of both lively and quiet conversations), a pet dog barking occasionally, and the subtle clicks on keyboards of people doing homework. During the first couple hours here, there were only a few people, mostly at the pool to do homework. It was an overall quiet and peaceful atmosphere. But later in the day, more people came to relax and strike up conversation. The function of the pool changed from a study atmosphere to a social atmosphere. Unlike keynotes, the signals changed over the course of my visit at the pool.
Around 2:45, I could hear the trains from the Claremont Metrolink station passing by. This was surprising to me considering that the station is relatively far away from the pool. I would consider the sound of the trains a soundmark since it is a sound that can be heard from many places in the Claremont Colleges and many students can relate to hearing it. Claremont would not be the same without the sound of the trains passing by.
 The term “keynote” is defined in R. Murray Schafer, “The Soundscape.” Reprinted in The Sound Studies Reader, edited by Jonathan Sterne, 101. London and New York: Routledge, 2012. He describes the keynote sound as the “anchor or fundamental tone and although the material may modulate around it, often obscuring its importance, it is in reference to this point that everything else takes on its special meaning.”
 The term “signal” is defined in R. Murray Schafer, “The Soundscape.” Reprinted in The Sound Studies Reader, edited by Jonathan Sterne, 101. London and New York: Routledge, 2012. As he puts it, signals are “foreground sounds that are listened to consciously”.
 The term “soundmark” is defined in R. Murray Schafer, “The Soundscape.” Reprinted in The Sound Studies Reader, edited by Jonathan Sterne, 101. London and New York: Routledge, 2012. “Soundmark” refers to a community sound which is unique or possesses qualities which make it specially regarded or noticed by the people in that community.
I recorded the soundscape outside of Lowry A tower on Friday night Oct 6th, starting at 9pm. Being unwillingly immersed in this soundscape weekly, I chose to make use of my plight and add the sounds to the Claremont Colleges Soundmap.
Beyond the desire to turn lemons into lemonade, so to speak, I believe this soundscape makes a valuable contribution to the Soundmap. The existing Soundmap doesn’t have a soundscape outside a relatively rowdy dorm on a weekend night, something that captures a quintessential college experience. Further, this particular soundscape contains examples of keynotes, sound signals, soundmarks, and even archetypes.
I made this recording right outside my dorm window on the ground floor of Lowry A tower. At first, the sounds of people talking loudly dominate the soundscape. At around (0:46), the occasional woop or shout becomes a constant din. I consider these shouts Sound Signals of something particularly exciting happening in the party. Finally, at (1:14), after a nearby door closes, the music gets going. At first it is accompanied by some sound which may be some piece of equipment at Frary dining hall — I am not sure. I consider the party music to be a Soundmark, as it is something that carries important cultural information, and orients people to the nature of the party.
Not on this particular night, but sometimes, the sound of Campus Safety shutting down a party (more of a sudden absence of sound) is a welcome (or unwelcome) sound signal, depending on whether one is trying to sleep or to party. When I’ve been at parties, the knock on the door from either an R.A. or Campus Safety is more than just a sound to be listened to (a sound signal). It can evoke fear and is instantly recognized, rendering it a unique sound among college partygoers.
While the sounds of music and people yelling or singing ebb and flow over the course of the week, they are pervasive enough that I would call them Keynotes of college, certainly of college weekends. Because they are so often used in movies as a shorthand for a certain kind of free-spirited “college life,” they also serve as Archetypes.
Location: Front of Coop Fountain. Located in the first floor of the Smith Campus Center. Pomona College, Claremont, CA. The TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder was placed on a table located at the front of the establishment and near the kitchen section of the establishment.
About the soundscape: Located at the heart of the Smith Campus Center, the Coop Fountain is a must-hear aspect of Pomona College that all visitors of the College are recommended to visit and enjoy. The student-run restaurant has been supplying Pomona with food and employment opportunities for years, and has played an integral role in supporting its culture, throughout that time. For instance, there have been many times where I was forced to seek out the eatery’s services. I have spent many moments in the Coop Fountain to both eat and study, and for this reason, I thought it would be interesting to record what a typical afternoon sounded like at the restaurant.
I arrived at the Fountain at about 3:15 p.m. in the afternoon and the first sound that was most distinguishable to me was the music. The student workers are in charge of supplying the dinery with music through their phones and an AUX cord. As “Wake Up” from Travis Scott’s Astroworld album sounded through the eatery, I looked around the cafe for an open seat and set up my laptop at one of the booths. After taking a moment to hear other sounds, I looked around at the walls of the establishment. As the doors opened and closed, the metallic sound as the pull of air rushed through became more noticeable the more I focused on them. In conjunction with the sounds of doors, the background noise of the Coop Fountain was marked by the sizzle of the stove, the murmuring of the air conditioning vent, the general chattering of the student workers and restaurant customers, and the squeezing, airy sound of the cushion of the booth seats as people sat in them. All of the sounds were initially masked by the sound of the music playing and did not become immediately apparent to me until I started looking around and focused on others.
Due to the music being so loud, it became apparent to me that it was meant to be the aspect of the restaurant that attracted people, characterizing it as the signal of the establishment. While I initially characterized the sound of the doors as keynote sounds; after reflecting and even before noticing the sound itself, I noticed how my eyes would automatically shift and glance over at the doors as soon as I heard them open, in order to see who would be entering the establishment. Thus, I would also argue that I am consciously listening to the sounds of the doors, characterizing them as an additional signal sound. Although none of the sounds in the Coop Fountain were clearly manufactured by the natural environment, I would characterize all of the components that contributed to the background noise as the keynote sounds of the restaurant. This includes the sounds of the people air conditioner, general kitchenware and seats.
Other sounds that I expected to hear more clearly included the sounds of footsteps and the sounds of plates and kitchen utensils being used. While I could not consciously define those sounds, the sounds that I was able to distinguish intrigued me and all contributed to the feel of the establishment.
While the actual recording of the Coop Fountain was fairly similar to my observation, there were a few differences. The actual recording of the soundscape was marked by the chatter of the customers, the general sounds of kitchenware, the sound of the doors closing, and the music of the establishment. Additional sounds included a footstep (2:57) and sounds from a faucet (or another instrument of liquid dispersion) of some sort (5:42). I could not distinctly hear the sounds air conditioning vent or the booth seats, which may have been present but masked due to the increase in the amount of people from the time in which I originally wrote about my examination of the soundscape. Under the context of the recording, both the music and the sound of people talking were the most notable (and attractive) aspects of the soundscape, making them both appear to be signals. With the other miscellaneous sounds, I would again regard them as keynote sounds in the fact that they formed the background of the soundscape.
Location. Stairwell leading from first-floor lobby to basement of Thatcher Music Building, Pomona College, Claremont, CA.
Description of the space. It is an enclosed two-flight staircase. The walls, which include a wall separating the two flights of stairs, are of painted concrete. The steps and landing are covered in laminate tile and appear to be concrete underneath. The stairwell has doorways at top and bottom, usually open, for entry and exit. They were open during this recording. The ceiling is at an angle, so that the distance above any step is approximately approximately ?? feet. Total height of the stairwell from the bottom landing to the ceiling above the top landing is approximately ?? feet.
Recording setup. The microphone and the balloon were both placed near the floor of the landing between the two flights of stairs, about three feet apart.
30 dB decay: 1.8 sec
60 dB decay: 4.8 sec
decay to background level: 5.0 sec
minimum: 6.4 sec
(Analyzed using intensity graph function in Praat,)
Acoustic description. The resonance in this space prominently reinforces a pitch that I hear as the E-flat just above middle C. This pitch becomes audible as a hum less than a half-second after the pop, and it remains perhaps the most prominent feature of the sound for about two seconds. It is visible in the form of a dark band running across the spectrograph at about 312 Hz. Also, the reverberance of the stairwell produces a vibrato- or tremolo-like effect that is visible in the spectrograph’s striated low-frequency band.
Location: This recording was done right next to the fountain in the Peter W. Stanley Quadrangle.
Recording Setup: (Recording device: TASCAM-40).Recording was done done right next to the fountain in the Peter W. Stanley Quadrangle.
Description: The quad is a open space, with multiple entrances. The quad is also flanked by three academic buildings. The quad acts as a garden and courtyard space between these three academic buildings. In the recording, which was done in the afternoon, records the fountain, the centerpiece of the quad. The most relevant part of the recording is the constant running of the water.
Description: An 18” balloon was popped and recorded using a TASCAM DR-40 sound recorder. I stood in the center of the the stage at Little Bridges and popped the balloon while Profesor Cramer recorded the event with the microphone about 3 feet from the balloon and pointed in its direction.
The recital hall can hold an audience of 100 people. The walls of the recital hall are padded well to make the hall an intentionally reverberant space. The ceiling is about 50 feet high. The floors and walls have a wooden finish.
The recording was made with the TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder placed on a tripod on the podium in the recital hall. The balloon was popped about 5 feet away from the recorder, in the center of the stage.
30 dB decay 0.5 second
50 dB decay: 1.1 second
Decay to Background Level: 1.5 second
Minimum: 1.6 second
The walls of the hall were padded, which resulted in a relatively lower amount of resonance. However, the pop sound itself is very clear. The sound did not take too long to die down, and there wasn’t much echo.
This recording was made at the Harvey Mudd Dining Hall, Hoch Shanahan Dining Commons during lunchtime. There are four big food stations at the Hoch, and this recording was taken at one of them. The food stations are one of the busiest parts of the dining hall. This is where the chefs and the students communicate. The students stand in long lines and socialize. This audio recording captures the soundscape of the peak lunchtime hour at Harvey Mudd: 12pm.
This recording was made using the TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder. The recorder was placed on a tripod and then on the counter of one of the chefs.
There are no major events in this sound recording, therefore non are marked on the diagram. However, the three main elements of this soundscape are the plates/utensils, the students and the dining hall staff. Throughout the recording, the sounds of plates and utensils hitting each other are the most noticeable. Some of the sounds are more distant, indicating that these are sounds coming from the kitchen/behind the counter. Speech is heard from students in English and some speech is heard from the dining hall staff in both English and Spanish. The interesting aspect of this soundscape is that there is constant commotion and noise in the dining hall. Additionally, the two audible sentences presumably from students both use the common phrase: “It’s lit”. A student says “lit, fam” at the 0:08 mark, and another student says “lit” at the 1:51 mark. While this might just be a coincidence, it is interesting to hear a commonly uttered phrase twice in the dining hall soundscape in a two minute recording.
This recording was made at the Bernard Field Station in Claremont. More specifically, this recording was taken next to the chicken coop at the BFS. On the day this recording was made, there were no chickens in the coop. The day was hot and the recording area is a large open space, far away from any commercial activity or roads.
This recording was made using a TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder. The recorder was placed on a tripod under a tree.
The predominant sound in most of the recording is birds chirping. There seem to be multiple types of birds. Then, at the 0:31 minute mark, a low whirring noise is heard. This was due to an airplane flying over us. At the 1:23 minute mark, a train horn is heard. It is interesting that the train horn is heard, considering that the recording was made very far away from the train tracks; about a mile north. The train horn sound travels over a mile to the BFS, while all the other noises from the Claremont Colleges do not reach this spot of the BFS at all. The soundscape depicted in this recording is calm, natural and almost rural. It’s interesting to know that this soundscape was recorded very close to the dorm rooms and dining halls of the Claremont Colleges, because this soundscape tells a unique story.
Location: The recording was done right next to the entry of the Pomona College Farm on Amherst Street.
Recording: TASCAM recorder
Soundscape: That afternoon, it was a clear, sunny day. In the background, there are automobiles passing by. There are also birds chirping in the tress and the wind is blowing. Also, if you listen closely, there are chickens clucking in the distant background. Since the recording took place near the outskirts of campus, there is no dialogue.
Augie’s Coffee house is a charming coffee spot across the street from the Claremont packing house. I would depict the coffee house as a quaint, transparent, cute, and timeless canvas that is definitely worth taking up some space in anybody’s photo gallery. Along with being photogenic, the business is also extremely skilled at making delicious coffee.
Recording Setup. The TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM was placed on one of the counters along the wall to the right side (looking from the front door) facing out towards the middle of the space.
About the Soundscape. The recording was at 6:00 on a Friday evening. This seemed like a busy evening for the coffee house, but as customers received their beverages and decided whether to stay or leave, those who decided to stay did not engage in much conversation. The recording illustrates this anomaly in the beginning. It is not until the crescendo of a musical song led by the playing of guitar that you start to hear inklings of dialogue being exchanged between customers. As I listened to the recording I found this sequence of events most fascinating because we are able to observe how sound, specifically musical sound, prompts one to engage in discussion with another–or at least lighten the mood of people within close proximity of this sound. Moreover, I would say that the keynote of this place that may not have been heard in the recording would be the sounds of customers making orders. Additionally, I believe that the customers’ conversations, typing of laptop keyboards, music , and coffee being made would all contribute to the soundscape of Augie’s Coffee House. Lastly, the archetype of Augie’s Coffee House encompasses the use of various machines to complete the customers’ orders, the constant arranging and occasional dropping of cups by employees in midst of fulfilling orders, and music being played at high volumes over the PA system within the cafe.
Recorded on a clear yet windy morning, by the gated pool area on Pitzer campus. It was relatively early and it seemed not too many people were out. The open space was framed by dorms, tables, and the gate. I assumed the water would affect the sound quality, and it did seem to thicken the audio somehow. I also wonder if wind played a role in distributing sound? Overall, a somewhat pleasant atmosphere.
This version of the balloon pop took place at the Gold Center on Pitzer campus. It was an oblong, medium-sized room which surprisingly was pretty reverberant. It was also on the second floor, so other noises seemed less present in the recording. The balloon was placed 2-3 feet away from the recorder. The decay as shown by the graph seems relatively steady to me, although while recording it did not; it’s possible the initial noise seemed to detract from the overall progression of audio.
This was recorded at Pitzer, during a leisurely time on campus after many students had left for spring break. One can hear birds perhaps most prominently, and I am a bit curious as to what kind they are? At first when listening, I assumed wind had interfered with the clarity of the audio recording, but remembered I was outside a dining hall and the distant hum of mechanical systems may be a more accurate schematic representation. This area of Pitzer is rather open yet other buildings are often in surrounding sight. So, proximity may have added to audibility while diminishing more slowly-building types of reverberation.
This recording was taken in the machine shop in Harvey Mudd College’s Libra Complex. The Libra Complex is Mudd’s series of tunnels and halls that lie below the academic half of campus. The halls are filled with classrooms and labs. Specifically the room of this recording is an Engineering machine shop filled with student workers and high-end machines such as computer-led lathes and presses. The shop itself lies underground which separates the sounds in the environment from the areas around them. This also adds an interesting soundproofing between many of the rooms as the noise has to penetrate earth walls between rooms. The room has machines lining the walls, spaces for shop proctors (read: instructors) and for students to work, and a radio on a table at the far end for music.
I made this recording using the TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder by putting it on a small tripod that I set on the ground next to an unused machine. The recorder was in the middle of the room and faced a machine about 7 feet away that a student was working at.
This clip begins with a prominent soundmark of the machine shop: machines whirring. This noise is presented in conjunction with music from the radio, another soundmark of the machine shop, and student chatter, a keynote for the hallways of the Libra Complex. At roughly 3.4, we hear the clang of a lathe stopping. This is a signal in this soundscape as it alerts others that something important is happening with a machine. The general chatter and whirring continues until we hear another signal at 37.7, the laughter of one of the students. This is a signal of the student’s feelings. At 47.7 we hear another keynote of the Libra Complex’s, explanation from a supervising student, in this case a shop proctor, to another student. This dynamic occurs frequently among students working in the different rooms of the complex. At 59.7 we again her the signal of another machine stopping, and after this point the recording is much quieter, leading us to hear more of the background music and conversation. The final noise of the recording is the song changing and the shop proctor reacting to change the song at 84.3 on. This is a signal of how the shop proctor responded to the new sound, as well as a soundmark that characterizes the space of the machine shop itself, as music changes are quite common.
Music practice room found in Harvey Mudd College’s Platt Campus Center.
Description of Space:
The practice room is a small room, about 7 ft by 10 ft, that has sound-reducing padded walls. The space contained a few chairs, as well as a book shelf and a piano on one side of the room. The floor is carpeted, and the walls have a kind of carpet on them as well.
The recording was done with the TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder placed on a short tripod on top of the piano, facing the middle of the room. I stood 6 feet from the recorder holding the recorded 18-inch balloon roughly 5 feet above the ground.
30 dB decay 0.32 seconds
50 dB decay: 0.72 seconds
Decay to Background Level: 2.98 seconds
Minimum: 3.64 seconds
The padded walls of the practice room cut down on resonance, as the walls tend not to vibrate with the sounds, but they seem to add some reverberation, as can be seen by the second peak after the balloon pop at roughly 0.02 seconds. This is very soon after the pop, but it shows an echo of some sort all the same. The sound took a relatively long time to decay as it remained in the room throughout the recording.
Picture of recorder setup and washing stations at time of recording.
The Village Mutt is located in a shopping center on Foothill Blvd. In Claremont, right across the street from Harvey Mudd College. It is a pet-wash located right next to an animal orphanage and child day-care. These unique buildings all near each other form a very interesting segment of the greater 5C soundscape. The store itself is filled with animals waiting to get washed and a lot of equipment to clean them. My recording takes place at about 11 AM, so the shop had just started running for the day.
I made this recording with the TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder by setting it on a small tripod placed on a table about 3 feet off the ground. The table was placed near the middle of the main lobby of the dog-wash, facing toward a sink/hairdryer machine that a dog was being cleaned on. The recorder was underneath a speaker in the ceiling playing music.
When the recording begins, we can hear a few people talking in the wash and music lightly playing from the aforementioned speaker. Starting at 12.9 we begin to hear a large dog wagging its tail on the ground. This is the first sound that marks the soundscape as something special: a place for pets and animals. This wagging is thus a soundmark of the location of the recording, but at a more general level this is an audible signal from the dog about how it feels at that moment. At 24.0, we hear another small squeak, namely a dog playing with a dog toy. This too is a soundmark for a location such as ours, as it is not usual to hear such a noise in any place without pet prominence. A pet-shower begins running at 30.4, another soundmark for a pet-wash, and at the same time we hear a small child talking with her dad. This was an interesting and unexpected addition to this soundscape recording, but I believe it acts as a keynote for the greater area, showing the interactions between the area and the daycare nearby. Though the exact sound itself may not be common, a set of very similar sounds pervades the area. 36.9 on to about 54.0, with a final instance at 69.2, introduce a routine dog bark that acts as not only a soundmark, but again a signal to the trained ear as to how the dog is feeling or perhaps even the breed of the dog in question. The recording wraps up with another listen in to the father and daughter, and hear the inflection of their voice can be used as a specific signal to help listeners understand the feelings between the two in the recording.
Space Description: My car is a mid-size sedan. It is a very small acoustic space that is enclosed very tightly. The seats are leather with a seating capacity of 5. The overall length is 182 inches and the width is 71 inches. The height is 56 inches. Car is made of steel, copper, aluminum, and copper body panels with plastic and rubber interiors. Also there are glass windows on the car.
Recording setup: I placed the TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM on the front dashboard of my car, standing vertically. The balloon was placed in the backseat of my car.
Max: >100 dB
-30 dB: .07 seconds
-60 dB: .2 seconds
Minimum: 18.5dB after .5 seconds
Acoustic Description: The sound of the balloon pop did not linger very long. There was the initial pop, which was very intense due to the small enclosure of the car, and then a rapid decline in decibels followed by a brief echo and then leading to another fast decline in decibels. The physical space of my car was not susceptible to a lot of reverb as the sound died within the car pretty fast. There was one initial loud echo and then the sound died. The outline of the acoustic space is very jagged and asymmetrical with seats, dashboards, and other items jutting out here and there. This probably was a factor for the rapid resonance decrease.
Location: Yogurtland is a self-serve yogurt store in the Claremont Village. It is an asymmetrically shaped room. For this recording, the microphone was rested on one of the tables that I was sitting at in the middle of the room. The recording was made at the end of the night when Yogurtland was starting to close.
Soundscape: At the time of the recording there were about 4 other people in the store plus 2 Yogurtland employees. Yogurtland is a prominent yogurt store in Claremont and one of the only stores open late at night. In the soundscape you can hear lots of different noises during all times of the recording, with a constant noise level that has few surprises. In the background there are speakers playing soft music to set the ambiance. You can hear people talking and laughing as they eat yogurt. The sound of the door opening and closing as people come in and out of the store can also be heard. There’s the sound of metal chairs screeching against the floor as people get up and sit down. Because I was in the store late at night there were some sounds that are unique to a store closing. There were sounds of trash cans being wheeled around. The sounds of a sweeper and mop are in the soundscape because of workers cleaning the building as they prepare to shut down. Overall, the ambiance is light and friendly, as is expected of a yogurt store. There were some unique sounds I captured due to the store closing. This particular soundscape is important to my Claremont life because I eat yogurt here all the time. Also, Yogurtland is in the village, which practically makes it an extension of the Claremont Colleges due to its close proximity.
Space Description: The atrium outside of the Lyon Court laundry room has low ceilings. The entire area in made of hard concrete, so every sound in “boomy”. The atrium has walkways that lead to the courtyard in between Harwood Court and Lyon Court, and to the open space between Harwood and Mudd-Blaisdell, a neighboring dorm. The recording took place at 9:15 PM on February 28, 2017.
Recording Setup: The TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM was placed on a bench attached to the wall, and was facing towards the walkways leading away. The balloon (approx 18″) was tossed into the air, then popped when it was about 4′ off the ground, and about 3′ away from the recording device.
Max Intensity: 87.5 dB
-30 dB: .796 Seconds
-50dB: 1.737 Seconds
Minimum Intensity: 32.3 dB after 2.6 Seconds
Acoustic Description: Although the atrium itself is fairly closed off, the area around it is very open, so once the sound escapes, there is nothing for it to echo off of. The graph shows that there were not many bumps in the decay. This is because of the lack of echo that the space produces – the sound is amplified due to the enclosure, but the sound is able to escape to where it does not echo.
Recording Setup: The TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM was placed on top of the black and yellow sculpture, and was facing in the direction of Little Bridges.
About the Soundscape: This recording took place at 3:42 PM on Tuesday, February 28. At this time, most students are either still in class or studying, so not many people were out and about. The characteristic sounds of this soundscape are not unique to the area; throughout the recording, cars driving on College Avenue, birds chirping, and wind can be heard. The sound of the wind was exaggerated because it was an unusually windy day, and the wind screen was not on the recording device. Based on my experience in this location, keynotes of this soundscape are wind through trees (the rustling of leaves inaudible in the recording), cars driving on College Avenue, and birds chirping. If I had made my recording about 15 minutes later, there would have been more sounds of people, because classes end at 4:00 PM, so people leaving the building would have been picked up by the recording device.
Recording Setup: The TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM was placed on the balcony of the room facing Bonita Avenue.
About the Soundscape: The recording was made at 8:51 PM, on February 28, 2017. This was a lively evening in the room, as one resident was playing a video game while talking to a friend through the console’s headset; the other was watching a show on Netflix with a friend. The prominent feature of this recording is the voice of the resident playing video games, as he was closer to the recording device. He was speaking in Portuguese. The voices of the others can be heard faintly in the background, as well as periodic coughs and laughs. About a third of the way through the recording, a character in the show breaks out into song. Later, an emergency vehicle drives down College Avenue with sirens on. The room is close enough to that street to hear its traffic, especially when the window is open. The main keynote of this soundscape is traffic on College Avenue and Bonita Avenue. The soundmark of this soundscape are the conversations each resident is having; it is not uncommon for either of the residents to be playing a video game or watching a show. Despite this, the room is not usually that loud – most of the conversations I have had with people living in that room or a neighboring room have happened in either the hallway or a different room.
Location: Corridor located within the basement complex of Harvey Mudd College’s academic buildings. The map below shows the exact location of the corridor.
Description of the space: The corridor is approximately 7 ft wide, 9 ft tall, and 90 ft long. The ends of the corridor turn at 90 degree angles and keep continuing. There are doors that are slightly caved in, as well as light fixtures on either side of the corridor which might prevent reverberation. The floor is solid, although a portion of it is carpeted.
Recording setup: The recording was done at the center of the corridor. I held the balloon 5 feet high, approximately 6 feet from the TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder which was placed on the floor using a tripod.
30 dB decay: 0.6 sec
50 dB decay: 1.3 sec
decay to background level: 2.0 sec
minimum: 3.0 sec
Acoustic description: The resonance of this space does not cause any echoing, as the intensity drop seems to be linear, without any secondary peaks. The decay time is also relatively fast, which could either be caused by the placement of the recorder, or the acoustic properties of the corridor.
Location: Fountain in the middle of the academic quad
This location was the fountain in the middle of the academic quad at Pomona College. It was a relatively clear and sunny day.
Recording Setup: The recording device used was the TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM Recorder, and it was placed on one of the benches next to the quad.
About the soundscape: The recording took place around 2:00 p.m., so many students were either in their dorms or in class. This led to a rather uneventful, yet peaceful soundscape of the fountain. Specific keynotes in this soundscape had to be the constant rushing of water going down the fountain, as well as the underlying hum of vehicles passing by. The recorder was placed at a moderate distance from the fountain, so it was audible throughout the recording but definitely never overpowering. The humming of car engines was also present in most of the soundscape, but it was loudest around 3 seconds in the start of the recording, leading me to believe that a vehicle passed by in the adjacent street to the fountain. A signal that was heard near the end of the recording was the two students talking indistinctly as they were walking by. The final “yeah” from one of the students was the only word that was discerned from this conversation. The rest of the recording consisted of the peaceful sound of the fountain.
Location: Scripps Music Practice Rooms are hidden underground, to the northeast of the Performing Arts Center. The rooms lie on the sides of two nested rectangles. Both the encompassing and the encapsulated rectangles have longer sides extending in North-South direction. The rooms are usually busiest on weekday afternoons. For this recording, the microphone rested approximately 10 inches above the ground in the Southwest corner of the rooms in the corridor between the two rectangles. The recording was made on a busy Saturday night when 5 piano students are practicing.
Soundscape: When the recording was made, there were at least 5 piano students practicing concurrently; however, since the microphone was placed in a corner, the two neighboring rooms’ music was most audible, with the practice on Liebestraum being much more dominant. The second piece can most easily be heard when Liebestraum was paused or weak at 00:13, 00:26, and 00:32. Besides the sound made by piano, the clock in the background is also audible. In fact, among the sounds, the clock’s is the most clear and crisp because the piano musics were played in enclosed rooms and their sounds had completed multiple reflections within the rooms before they reach the microphone.
There is no keynote in this soundscape, all of the major sounds intrigue conscious listening. The pianos played in the foreground are archetypes of the soundscape: they identify the rooms as music practice rooms. The fact that the pieces are often paused or interrupted informs the listeners that this is a practice room rather than a recital hall. The pianos can also be considered sound signals because the listeners perceive them consciously. The ticks of the clock may also be classified as a sound signal if the listeners are actively aware of them; otherwise they are the only keynote in this soundscape. The clock ticks are definitely community sound as they are the universal signals of time.
Location: Case laundry room is in the Northeast corner of 1st floor case dorm. It is the only laundry room in the dorm. The room has one door and one window facing Case courtyard. The room is rectangular, with four washers and four dryers lined up along the two longer sides. For this recording, the ballon was placed in the Southwest corner of the room. The recorder was placed on the 3rd washer away from the wall, approximately 5 ft away from the balloon. The recording was done when no washer or dryer was operating. Setup of the recording illustrated in the figure below:
30 dB decay: 0.2212s
50 dB decay: 0.4632s
60 dB decay: 0.8114s
decay to background level: 0.9472s
Peak Intensity: 81.79 dB
Bottom Intensity: 15.81 dB @ 1.6118s
Acoustic Description: The laundry room is an enclosed space with acoustically interesting objects such as full/half-full detergent bottles and sheet metals (found on washers and dryers). The nature of this room gives it relatively damp air that absorbs sound waves and minimizes reverberation. Immediately after the balloon pops, there was audible resonance produced by the sheet metals and/or the plastic bottles; then both the pop and its resonance decreases at a rate that is surprisingly rapid for such a confined space — sounds die off almost as quickly as they would on an outdoor field. The rate of the sound’s decay and the absence of strong echo suggest that the sound vibrations are trapped between the detergent boxes, absorbed by the moisture in the air, or converted to mechanical vibrations of the sheet metals on washers and dryers. The spectrogram shows a persistent, low frequencies sound after the pop (slightly above 30Hz), which might correspond to the vibration of the sheet metals after they receive the shock; however, without further testing we cannot draw definite conclusion on what caused the post-pop low frequency sound.
Case laundry room is in the Northeast corner of 1st floor case dorm. It is the only laundry room in the dorm. The room has one door and one window facing Case courtyard. The room is rectangular, with four washers and four dryers lined up along the two longer sides. For this recording, the microphone rested approximately 7 inches above the 3rd washer from the wall. The recording was made on a Sunday afternoon when only one dryer was operating. There is another person in the laundry room waiting for the drying to end during the recording.
the most prominent sound in the soundscape is the noise of the dryer. Since there was only one operating dryer throughout the recording, the dryer’s noise is single layered. This background noise was interrupted by the sound of water (00:12), footsteps (00:40), and the opening and closing of the door (00:42). An interesting feature of the interrupting noises is that they are very informative: a listener can visualize the actions and movement of the actor in this scene by tracing through the noise. Even without knowing what the laundry room shapes like, an listener can deduct that a person walked across the room after washing something and left the room.
The noise of the dryer is the keynote as well as the archetype of the soundscape. It is very consistent throughout the recording and it informs the listeners that this place is unmistakably a laundry room. Sound signals in the soundscape are the interruptors mentioned above: sound of water (00:12), footsteps (00:40), and the noise of the door (00:42). They provide cues to the movement of the person. There is no community sound in this soundscape, but there would be one if the recording was made when the drying finished and signaled with a “beep”.
Location: Studio 47 office, basement of Clark V at Pomona
Recording setup: I placed the TASCAM recorder on my office desk, which is a few feet away from where I was adjusting equipment. Note: there is some interference occurring because I had to increase the volume on the recorder to capture the quieter sounds.
About this soundscape: For this recording, I chose a place I am very familiar with: the Studio 47 office space. I work there from 7-10 PM on Monday nights, renting out equipment and answering students’ questions about film and TV production at the Claremont colleges. The office is located in the basement of Clark V. The room is roughly 50 x 30 feet, and is carpeted with high vaulted ceilings. I chose this space to highlight the solitude of a campus workspace. My job is fairly boring because we don’t get many visitors, so most of it involves checking equipment, answering emails, and tidying up the space by myself.
Keynotes: The only sounds you hear are various combinations of the jangling of keys, unlocking of cabinets, clicking of equipment boxes, and clicking of my keyboard. However, I thought it would be interesting to really listen to these individual sounds, which I take for granted every day. Listening to them in isolation made me appreciate their unique nature. For example, the click of our plastic camera box closing was very soothing, while the rusty metal cabinet where we keep our equipment was unnerving. I also noticed that the farther away the sounds were, the more echoey they seemed, while sounds closer to the recorder were much “brighter” and decayed faster. For example, opening the cabinet, which is about ten feet away from the recorder, had a greater impact than me opening the desk drawer right next to the recorder. As you can see from the intensity graph, the sound is generally very quiet with the occasional spike in activity, and that the sounds do not last for very long.
Archetypes and Signals: While I am very familiar with these sounds, I understand that someone not familiar with this space might still be able to guess what they are because they are fairly generic. However, I thought it would be an interesting comparison for other students who have on-campus jobs, or who have ever been a quiet work environment.
Recording setup: I placed the balloon in the middle of the floor and placed the TASCAM recording device approximately six inches away and balancing on the tripod three inches above the ground.
About this recording: This balloon pop took place in the echoey area right by the entrance to the Rose Hills Theatre in the Pomona SCC. The ceiling is vaulted and the entire surrounding structure is made of stone, but open entrances on three sides allow outside sounds in (in other words, it is not closed-off.) There is also a set of stairs by the third entrance, which could affect the sound.
30 dB decay: .274 seconds
50 dB decay: 1.7 seconds
60 dB decay: 2.76
decay to background level: 1.79, since there was background noise before
The spectrogram indicates a space that does not enable for an even decay of sound. While the balloon sound indeed does decay at a steady rate, the echoey nature of the location shows that it picks up on barely-audible sounds long after the initial sound has passed. There is a steady level of general background noise on the spectrogram (a gray haze) that overlays the more prominent, audible background noises.
The location of this soundscape was in the Millikan building of Pomona College. Coming in from the side entrance opposite the Coop Fountain, the recording was done right by the staircase. This was quite an open space because it is in the middle of a hallway and the building is quite large while the ceilings are tall. This recording was done at around 5:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday, 25th Feb.
Recording Setup and Recording Device:
To record the soundscape, the TASCAM DR-40 sound recorder was placed on the bottom of the staircase on a tripod. It was left there for a total of 5 minutes and 30 seconds and was not touched.
About the Soundscape:
Normally, this location is quite quiet. Since it is by two doors and the staircase, there are a lot of people exiting and entering as well as footsteps going up and down the stairs. At this time of day and this specific day, however, there is much more sound because there was a mock trial competition happening. The teams were all in the classrooms, but the ones that were preparing all stood by the staircase. The teams waiting in the hallway were cuddled in a circle and were whispering to each other discussing strategies and plans. Once in a while, there were people going up and down the stairs.
In the recording, there is not one dominant voice or person making a sound. All you can hear are mutters and small conversations that stay consistent throughout the recording. In addition, once in a while you can hear a voice saying “shh” to quiet down the conversations. There are not much loud noises. Everyone’s volume of speech is at around the same level. You can hear laughter and chuckles throughout as well. Also, there is no silence during the recording the mutters and conversations are apparent throughout but are also all in similar tone, style and volume. It sort of resembles that of an audience or soundscape right before a performance or concert, where the audience knows there is a performance coming so they are quiet in their conversations. Due to the location, the recording picks up the footsteps that go up and down the stairs.
The keynote of this soundscape is the whirring or buzzing noise in the background, most probably from the air conditioning or the nature of the Millikan building. It is consistent throughout that after a while, it just almost becomes forgotten. An example of a sound signal is the footsteps going up and down the stairs, heard in 00:13-00:18 of the recording. Throughout this time, the individual’s distance from the recorder can be tracked due to the gradual fainting of the footsteps as they ascend the stairs. At 00:23, there is a random “boop” sound that does not last long but is unique because it is very different from the consistent sound of chatter. At seconds 00:32- 00:34 is an example of a signal and a soundmark. It is a signal because this “shh” signal is meant to be listened to but also acts as a soundmark because it is a community sound in which everyone is supposed to listen to this cue and quiet down.
The location of this soundscape was in the Harvey Mudd Cafe. This location is spacious. There are two components. Majority of the space is made for study area where there are students working. There is also a Starbucks attached to it. This recording was done at around 5 in the afternoon on Sunday, 26th Feb.
Recording Setup and Recording Device:
To record the soundscape, the TASCAM DR-40 sound recorder was placed on the table in the study area. It was left there for a total of 5 minutes and 30 seconds and was not touched.
About the Soundscape:
Due to the time and date this was taken, the café had quite a few people there and therefore that also meant more activity in Starbucks. It was a Sunday afternoon when most people are trying to finish up their work so there was quite a lot of action. The soundscape, therefore, was never quiet.
In the recording, most of the soundscape is comprised of the background music playing on speaker rather than people talking. This soundscape promotes a calming atmosphere. It is interesting that in the beginning, the music does not start playing until 00:09. At 00:24-00:25, there is a rustling of paper illustrating that there was someone close by doing homework. At 00:35 there is a fidgeting noise, sounding like somebody clicking on their computer. Surprisingly, there is not much noise coming from the Starbucks aspect of the environment. The one place in the recording resembling something being made is at 00:44-00:46 which is heard very slightly in the background.
The keynote of this soundscape is certainly the music playing in the background. There is also a buzzing sound in the background but that is probably from the fans or the whirring noise from the air conditioning. An example of a sound signal in this recording is a faint laugh in the very beginning at around 0:05. It is very noticeable because the recording starts as complete silent because the music is not playing yet, and then the laughter comes up and it is very distinctive because it breaks the silence. Another example would be the slight background noise of drinks being made or coffee being brewed in the background. This, however, is very faint. There is no specific sound mark happening in this recording. There seems to lack a unique community sound. The rustling of the paper, however, can almost be referred to as a sound mark in this case to the audience of the soundscape due to the lack of significant sounds throughout the soundscape. The rustling of the paper happens closes to the mic of the recording, and therefore it is very clear and crisp and becomes very noticeable. It can be specially regarded because it also provides a clue to the “workspace” atmosphere of the soundscape.
This balloon pop took place in the female bathroom on the first floor of Millikan in Pomona College. The bathroom is not a private stall but a communal one situated right by the staircase and diagonal to the physics lounge. Walking into the space, there is a rectangular area right by the door where the sinks are situated. Then there is a narrow space that extends down where all the stalls are located. The walls of the bathroom are tiled. The balloon pop was done in the middle of the rectangular area.
Recording setup and recording device:
The way it was set up is that after the balloon was all blown up, it was placed right in the middle of the rectangular area. Then, the TASCAM DR-40 sound recorder was placed about three feet away from the balloon on the ground with the tripod attached to it.
30 dB decay: 0.368 s
50 dB decay: 0.752 s
60 dB decay: 1.056 s
decay to background level: 3.2 s
seconds until reach minimum: 5.504 s
max intensity dB: 92.069
min intensity dB: 15.0210
Without the balloon and simply speaking in this bathroom, there is an echoic sound in the space. The voice seems clear and crisp and very focused. The sound is not hollow like that in a church space but there is a slight fine echo. The bathroom door was closed was the balloon pop took place. Although the bathroom size is relatively large, the balloon pop sound was still very focused, clean and crisp with a rather loud pop because of the structure. The balloon pop was done in the rectangular area, and this area could “trap” the sound because the other part of the bathroom was a long narrow hallway with stalls sort of like a tunnel. That did not create much opening for the sound and therefore the pop was quite focused in the rectangular area. The sound bounced off the three surrounding walls and did since the other opening was just the tunnel of stalls, there was not much space for the sound to escape. It is interesting because the spectrogram shows that there is a very dominant loud sound in the beginning right at the pop and then the sound rapidly descends. There is a short time a few seconds after the pop that there is a dark grey streak in the spectrogram, but otherwise the pattern seems to be a very high peak at the pop and then a rapid descend.
Location. This recording was taken inside the elevator of the ITS building across from Edmunds Hall , Pomona College.
Description of the Space. To the left of the fronts doors of the ITS building is the elevator. The is an enclosed cubic space the could fit approximately 2-3 people. The walls facing those who would stand in the were metallic, but once the elevator doors closed there be no opening for the sound to escape. The floor was not metallic, it was actually tiles that were plastic in texture.
Recording Setup. The TASCAM DR-40 sound recorder was held ~3-4 feet off of the ground with its mics (covered by a windscreen) facing the balloon ~5-6 feet away (the balloon was held in one corner of the elevator diagonally from the recorder which was in the opposite corner).
Max Intensity: ~74.82 dB
30 dB drop: 0.21 seconds
50 dB drop: ~0.55 seconds
60 dB drop: 1.024 seconds
Minimum Intensity: ~12.98 dB @ ~2.31 seconds
Back to ambient: ~12.5 dB @ 1.34 seconds
Acoustic Description. The space’s facing walls are all metallic and enclosing not allowing for much sound to escape the elevator with only a change in texture present on the floor. As a result of the enclosing metallic walls of the elevator, there was not much reverb to be heard which is why we are provided with a clapping/popping sound of the balloon. This also visible in the spectrogram.
Space Description: This balloon pop took place in the breezeway of Edmunds, between the entrances of the two different buildings of Edmunds. The left, right, top, and bottom of where I was standing was made of the same smooth concrete material, and the recording took place in the middle of the breezeway. The recording was taken around 5:00 P.M.
Recording Setup: The recorder used was the TASCAM DR-40, and it was placed about 4 feet from the ground and about 5 feet away from the balloon.
Max Intensity: 86.14 dB
30 dB drop: 0.896 seconds
50 dB drop: 2.325 seconds
60 dB drop: the recording never drops 60 dB.
Minimum intensity: 28.342 dB after 4.32 seconds
Back to ambient levels: 32.803 dB after 2.43 seconds
Acoustic Description: The breezeway was not a very open space and resembled a tunnel, so there was quite a bit of reverberation because sound would bounce back after it hit one of the many walls that it would encounter. It is visible form the spectrogram that the echo of the pop was sustained for longer than usual, but eventually returned back to its ambient levels after a couple of seconds. The sound was able to finally escape through the entrances and the exits of the breezeway, but only after bouncing on the ceiling, ground, and walls, which were characteristic of this acoustic space.
This recording took place on the steps in front of Big Bridges. Marston Quad is in front the steps of Big Bridge which are outside the front of the auditorium. In between Marston Quad the steps is a wide walkway that leads to south campus which most students pass along in order to get to their intended destination on campus.
Recording Setup. The TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM was placed on one of the steps on a tripod with a windscreen facing the wide walkway.
About the Soundscape. The recording was made at 5:56 on a Friday evening. There were a number of students walking past the steps of Big Bridges participating in relatively loud conversations throughout the recording. Because these steps are near streets where cars pass, you may hear a couple of engines coming into the soundscape and quickly fading away. Also towards the end of the recording there is brief, but distinct sound of an airplane flying a over the campus as if it were passing through which may not be a definite characteristic of this soundscape, but it was an interesting note to acknowledge. Sounds that you may not have heard in the recording but are characteristic of this soundscape are; the rustling of the trees in Marston Quad from the breeze, the faint sound train horn filling in the background, and birds chirping as they fly past. The keynotes of this soundscape could be the rustling trees of Marston Quad and cars that drive past on the streets of Pomona. The soundmark of this soundscape consists of the people who walk past and carry on in diverse conversations and their discord of footsteps. Lastly I believe the rustling of the trees in Marston Quad from the breeze, the faint sound train horn filling in the background, and birds chirping as they fly past, and the people who walk past and carry on in diverse conversations are characteristics of the archetype of the soundscape of Big Bridges.
This location was inside the Starbucks inside the Village, next to Pomona College. It is a relatively small-sized shop, with multiple tables and a cozy environment.
Recording Setup: The recording device used was the TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM Recorder, and it was placed on top of a table in the corner of the shop, next to the entrance.
About the Soundscape: The soundscape was recorded around 6:00 P.M., which seemed to be quite a busy time for Starbucks. There were people moving in and out constantly, and there was never a quiet moment when recording my soundscape. The keynote of this soundscape consists of two components. One has to be the constant indistinguishable conversations of the people around us. I was not able to make out a conversation from other people, but there were some moments where someone would say something louder than normal, such as a high school student exclaiming something to his friends. This would be regarded as more of a signal. Another keynote in this recording was the music playing through the speakers of the shop, and it help set the overall soundscape of a bustling coffee shop. Finally, a soundmark that was present in this soundscape was definitely the prominent sound of the fan and door when someone was entering or exiting the store. It would happen at regular intervals and indicates that this particular Starbucks was having a busy day.
Recording setup: I placed the TASCAM recorder on the table right next to the garden. The table is in between two dorms and in front of the quad.
About this soundscape: The Scripps Rose Garden, nestled between two dorms and the border of Harvey Mudd College, is a quiet sanctuary at the Claremont colleges. Not only is it aesthetically beautiful, with trellises decked in flowers and rows of roses, but it is also very quiet. I chose this space to see if a place designed to be quiet really was quiet.
Keynotes and sound marks: You will hear ID cards swiping into dorms, feet crunching on pebbles, doors slamming, voices chattering, and a slight breeze. Even with all that, it is still very silent. I sat at a table by the entrance and observed students walking into their dorms, walking to and from the dining hall, and stopping to chat with each other. Though there are walls on either side, which could make it echoey, I believe the roses and plants absorb the sound. I also couldn’t hear what was going on inside the dorms, which makes it a rare, peaceful campus location. I had to amplify it a little on Audacity to hear most of the sound. It’s interesting how the spikes in sound on the intensity graph are extremely large with certain cues (for example, the door opening, which sounded across the garden) and then are relatively quiet until the next big cue. It shows that this space really does not have a constant interaction with sound; unlike many other places on campus, this one is extremely filtered and sheltered.
Archetypes and signals: Again, this is an extremely typical location on a lot of college campuses (a quiet refuge from the noise of the campus); however, I doubt most colleges are this quiet. I wonder if it would be different to do this at a large state school, as opposed to a small liberal arts college for women. The few signals there are are the “boundaries” of the rose garden — ID cards swiping, voices floating from the dining halls which remind us that we’re not actually in a sanctuary.
Location: The hub at CMC. I was sitting outdoors on the patio eating some food on a table. The recorder was standing on the table. Behind me was a series of glass window panes and doors that served as the walls of the inside of the hub. I was surrounded by other tables and in front of the patio is a big walkway and fountain.
Soundscape: At the time of the recording the Hub was busy with lots of students eating and talking. You can hear the chatter and conversing of students all around. The area is bustling with student activity. You can also hear the fountain, which is a soundmark of the area. Metal chairs banging and screeching across the floor along with footsteps and clapping make up the majority of the rest of the soundscape.
Location: The Bernard Field Station is a natural laboratory located on the Northest part of the 5C campus that serves as a natural environment in which students can conduct experiments in. It is a piece of land that has been left mostly untouched and is isolated from any outside disturbances which replicates the natural ecology of California. Since it is home to a lot more wildlife and gets rare visits from humans, the soundscape of the field station is very much different than the rest of the 5Cs campus.
At the time of my recording they were working on the construction of a new facility within the field station (at a distance), which can be heard in the recording.
Recording: I made my recording on the edge of the (artificial) lake located within the Field Station, at 8:30am in order to capture all the wildlife activity that goes on in the morning. The capturing was done using a TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder at a height of 3ft with the windscreen.
The clip starts with a strong industrial humming sound which sounds like an airplane, but is actually coming from the construction. Although the humming is prominent, you can still hear bird calls going on in the background. Since the geo-spatial aspect of the audio is removed in the recording it is hard to tell if the calls are made by a single bird, or multiple birds. However, to the sophisticated ear these bird calls act as signals, acting as identifiers of the birds species, and possibly intention. Since the birds live, or frequently visit the field station, the presence of bird calls can be considered a soundmark, although the individual calls change with season and time of day. By themselves, these calls can additionally be considered as signals between the birds. At 0:27, we hear the train whistle coming from the train station down in the Claremont Village. This is a sound that can be heard all across the campus, and I’m surprised that it could also be heard from the north border of the campus. It acts as both a signal, letting people know that the train has arrived, and also a keynote. At 0:50 and 1:10 you can hear quiet rustling noises which was caused by a bird diving into the reeds located near the lake.
Location: The quad is in located in the middle of four dorm buildings, and is a very active part of campus. It’s surrounded by concrete roads which students walk or skate on to travel between their dorm rooms, classrooms and the dining hall. Both West Dorm and North Dorm have student-operated speakers (facing East and West respectively) that they use to broadcast music to their residents during the day. Since both dorms’ speakers are angled slightly outwards, the quad in between the two dorms gets two separate streams of loud music from both dorms. Since this is the residential end of the campus, you can often hear students walking or skating around, shouting to each other, or having conversations. The flat architecture of the inner dorm can result in echoing of music and voices, sometimes making it hard to locate the sources of sounds.
Recording: The recording was done in the grassy area in the middle of the four inner (U-shaped) dorms using a TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder at a height of 3ft with the windscreen.
Description: From the beginning of the clip, you can hear music on the background which is a a distinctive soundmark for this location. The clip starts with somebody screaming/calling to their friend–a signal–and then we can hear scratching noises which are made by people walking by. Halfway through the first recording we hear another speaker go on, resulting in two different streams of music. The cacophony of multiple speakers is once again very characteristic of the soundscape of the quad. At 0:40 we hear some rustling/scratching noises again. Although this sounds like an artifact, I think it is the result of people walking on the sidewalk along the quad, and can be considered a keynote sound. At 1:20 (Part 2, 0:20), you can make out slight talking which is mostly masked by the music. At 1:40 (Part 2, 0:40), you can hear the sound of wheels going across the sidewalk. This 2-part sound is a result of the the front and the back wheels crossing cracks on the quad sidewalk, and is a very prominent keynote within the Mudd soundscape.
This is located near a fountain behind Little Bridges and in front of the Harwood Dorm. It is a very small courtyard with several wooden tables and a fountain that is prevalent in the recording.
Recording Setup. The TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM Recorder was placed on a table facing the Harwood Dorm.
About the soundscape. The recording was made at about 2:40 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon. There were no other people around so it was fairly quiet. There were only a few sounds and only one that could be considered a soundmark. The soundmark is the sound of the fountain, though there are several fountains throughout Pomona College, so it is not very significant or unique. The keynote is the sound of the bird throughout the recording. There is also the sound of a car passing at some point. These sounds could be considered characteristics of the archetype of the typical outdoor soundscape at Pomona College.
Location: Weight Room at the Rains Center, Pomona College.
The Rains Center is near East 6th Street and Smiley Dorm. It is a center for sports and other physical activities. The weight room contains many weight machines and free weights.
Recording Setup. The TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM Recorder was placed on a table near the entrance of the weight room.
About the soundscape. The recording was made at 5:30 p.m. on Monday. It was fairly busy with 1 person using the squat rack, 2 people using the bench press bars, about 6 people using the machines, and 4 people using dumbbells. Music from the radio is very prevalent in the recording along with conversation about weight lifting from a pair of people. There are many sounds of weights being put down or slid around. The soundmark of this soundscape are the metallic sounds of the weights shifting. The keynote could be the voices of people talking to each other about their workout routines. The sound of the weights and bars, the content of the conversations, and loud music could be considered characteristics of the archetype of typical weight rooms.
Location and time. The primary-grades playground of Chaparral Elementary School during first recess. The recorder (a TASCAM DR-40) was on the eastern edge of the playground.
About the Soundscape. Kids are talking, yelling, and screaming. There is the sound of tetherball chains rattling. We hear balls bouncing off the handball wall or the ground, and the soft thuds of rubber balls hitting black top. There is rhythmic bouncing of balls from the handball wall to the ground. There is also the sound of kids kicking the soccer ball. Ropes and shoes quietly click and shuffle as kids jump rope.
When the bell [actually a loud electronic tone] rings at the end of recess, everyone squats down until a whistle says to get up and go inside. It gets quieter after the bell rings and louder after the whistle. Some indications that this is an elementary-school playground include the high-pitched voices of kids, the sounds of playground games such as tetherball, and the sound of the bell.
—By the students in Mrs. Andrade’s 3rd-grade class
Mead Hall is located near the center of Pitzer College’s campus. Mead is build as four towers, connected by elevated walkways. The northwestern tower is named W and in clockwise order the other towers are named X, Y and Z. Mead is the oldest building on campus that houses students and the only elevator in the complex is located in Y tower. The elevator is dimly lit and smells of stale air. Above the door there are several empty bottles wedged between the light and the ceiling. The linoleum floor is chipped, the walls are imitation wood, and only decorated by a lone, empty cork board. Since the time of this recording the elevator has been refurnished with metal panelling and although it is arguably more aesthetically pleasing, it has broken several times and is frequently out of service.
30dB decay: .2 seconds
50dB decay: .5 seconds
60dB decay: .7 seconds
decay to background level: 2.9 seconds
For this recording I set up the TASCAM DR-40 recorder on the floor using the tripod for stability and held the balloon 3 feet in the air above the microphone. At 10:45am on march 31st residents of Mead’s Y Tower heard a loud BANG (3 actually since the first two popped prematurely)!!! I expected the small, enclosed space of the elevator to reverberate the pop for longer than it did. The spectrogram shows the high frequency decayed relatively quickly, by .8 seconds, compared to the low frequencies, which took 3 seconds. I know cork is a very absorbent substance, and it may have contributed to the quick decay. I imagine the mechanical workings of the elevator contributed to a slightly elevated baseline. The intensity graph shows a series of fluctuations in intensity which take place at the end of the decay and this could have been from the elevator’s many moving mechanics, or it could be a result of the space’s reflective sound qualities.
If you are looking for the freshest food on the 5 Claremont Colleges, look no further than the grove house, right across from the clock tower on Pitzer’s campus. It is well worth waiting in the line which often starts forming as early as 12:30, one hour before the Grove House starts serving lunch, for the sandwiches, prepared with love by students, are truly life changing.
The Grove House was built in 1902 in the Craftsman style of architecture, and eventually moved from its original location onto Pitzer’s campus in 1977. Its beautiful hardwood floors, comfortable Craftsmen style furniture, and umpteen windows, small and large, give the space a relaxed and open, yet contained and cozy feeling. Pitzer residents and visitors alike use the Grove house for a multitude of purposes. By day students study about the house, work in the kitchen preparing food for the community, and wait patiently in line for their chance to order a truly magnificent and fabulously fresh culinary creation. By night various clubs use the space for meetings and events are held on a weekly basis such as Story Slam, FemCo and Groove at the Grove. It is a hub of social activity on Pitzer’s campus and home to fond memories for many members of the Pitzer community.
For this recording I used the TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder
After waiting in line since 1pm and ordering a delicious Grove House sandwich I sat down to eat at the small table next to the ordering window to eat and record the soundscape. I used the small tripod to steady the TASCAM DR-40 during the duration of the recording and situated myself about half way between the half door in the front where orders are taken and the half door in the
back where customers names are shouted and delicious sandwiches are happily received. I started recording at 1:45pm and captured the soundscape of an average busy day at the Grove House. It is not surprising that a wandering Grove House customer might meander outside, thus causing the cooks to repeatedly shout their names, but it’s not awkward since the environment is so friendly. A keynote of the space is the dull hum of cooks in the kitchen, and various signals are present in the repeated calling of customer’s names and responses of “I’m coming!” There are no specific soundmarks in this recording, nothing unique to the space that necessitates preserving, however the calling of names could be seen as an archatype as it it a fairly common form of customer service in the food services industry.
80.5 dB (maximum intensity @ 3.2s)
50.6 dB (@ 3.5s)
30.7 dB (@ 4.5s)
26.5 dB (minimum intensity @ 4.7s)
This recording was taken at Case Courtyard, which is an outdoor space but surrounded by a two-story brick building in all four sides (except an opening in the North West corner). Its concrete floor (ground) and the surrounding walls probably cause any reverberant sound to bounce/rise upward. At the time of recording, there were two wooden tables out in the courtyard. There were two people in the area including myself and another person holding up the balloon.
According to the data, it took 1.5 seconds for the balloon pop to decrease from the maximum intensity, 80.5 dB, to the minimum intensity, 26.5 dB. The difference between the two extrema is 54.0 dB, which is somewhat close to 60 dB. At the time of recording, the person who was holding the balloon spoke soon after the balloon pop (within the first 10 seconds after the pop, and closer to where the minimum intensity was taken from). For this reason, I had to cut out the very end of the recording. This may have prevented us from seeing the decibel volume decrease even more.
I recorded the sounds and sonic atmosphere of something we all know and love: the playground. The recording encompasses not only hints of children’s laughter and kids running around a large oak tree stepping on crunchy branches, but also the new touch of spring with slight gusts of wind and birds chirping about. Within the recording I would definitely say that the prevailing keynote is the chirping of the birds. Though not necessarily constant, the chirps are the loudest, most common, and most prevalent sounds in the recording. The breaking branches acted as signals, for each time one was heard you knew something or someone had passed by or was nearby the recorder. A recurring sonic archetype in the recording was gusts of wind. Though the breeze was always present, the wind picked up a variety of times within the recording.
Location: Pitzer College Outback, Thursday March 13, 11:45 am
Pitzer’s Outback is a designated zone for native wildlife that is one of the few places on campus designated not to be used for construction in the future. It contains a variety of wildlife and is situated on the corner of two major streets.
This recording was taken sitting on a bench in the Pitzer Outback. The microphone was placed on a stump pointing towards a nearby tree around noon. This resulting in a large amount of traffic through the nearby intersection of Mills and Foothill, which is heard throughout the recording as a keynote, a sound that is both constant and almost immediately ignored. The constant breeze that day resulted in yet another keynote, as it was ever present. Two very clear signals permeate the soundscape, an early propeller powered plane, which flies overhead, and about a minute later in the form of a particularly loud car accelerating from a stop. Despite the heavy traffic, several keynotes of a natural area can be heard, including birds and some smaller ground based wild life that scurries about.
30 dB decay: 1.9 sec
50 dB decay: 3.6 sec
60 dB decay: 4.9 sec
This recording was done in the underground tunnels beneath X and Y towers in Mead Residence Hall at Pitzer College. It is a very small confined space, made primarily of concrete and brick. The area is completely enclosed as is easily heard from the popping of the balloon. The exact point in the tunnel that I chose to pop the balloon in was devoid of any objects except some metal piping that runs throughout the tunnels.
Location: This recording was taken in the bathroom of one of the suites on the third floor of Atwood Dorm at Harvey Mudd College.
Description of the space: Atwood dorm is known for its gigantic bathrooms. For this recording stood in the shower, which is about 1.5 m wide and 1.5 meters long. There is a door leading into the bathroom hallway that has two sinks. Past the sinks there is a room with a door inside of which there is a toilet. Across from the toilet door is the entrance to the bathroom. The recording device was on a tripod at about chest level attached to one of the towel racks outside the shower. It was about 2 meters away from me.
Maximum intensity: 90.99 dB
30 dB drop: 61.4 dB @ 0.5 s
50 dB drop: 40.8 dB @ 1.0 s
Minimum Intensity: 40.8 dB @ 1.1s
Back to ambient: 44 dB @ 1.1 s
Acoustic Description: I expected the bathroom to have a longer reverb time but surprisingly this bathroom dampens the balloon pop sound rather quickly. One explanation for this could be that the bathroom is actually composed of porous concrete blocks (a material used in most Harvey Mudd buildings). Since this material has a lot of holes, it does not reflect sound well and thus reduces the reverb. Furthermore, I placed the recorder outside of the shower so the reverb may have been lost. The decay time was neither long nor short; it only took 1.1 s to reach its minimum intensity, which was also the region of ambient sound. The greatest source of background noise was the bathroom fan that was actually quite loud. This explains why the ambient sound level is so high. As can be seen on the spectrogram, even after the balloon pop, there are a lot of frequencies in the low to mid register.
Location: This recording was taken at the Frank Dining Hall patio at the bottom of Pomona College Campus. The patio is located outside the main dining hall area and contains about 10 tables. Approximately 30 people were seated outside. All the tables are quite small, seating at maximum 6 people. All of the furniture is wooden. One side of the patio is blocked off by a wall with windows where the main dining hall is located. There is a metal door on this wall as well which leads to the patio. On the other side the patio is closed off by concrete walls but decorated with plants and other foliage. Frank is one of the most popular Brunch locations on the 5Cs. At this time, there was a good amount of flow of people.
Recording Set Up: I placed the microphone on one of the wooden table facing away from the door. It was parallel to the ground. I sat behind the microphone with the friends that had come with me to brunch. All of the tables facing and next to the microphone had people seated at them.
The soundscape: I took this soundscape in the heart of brunch time so there were a lot of people around. The keynote throughout the recording is the chatter of people as they talk over their meals. The conversations that are easiest to hear come from the table surrounding my table. I sat in a central part of the patio. In front of me was a group of cross country boys who spoke rather loudly and to my right was a group of cross country girls that were chatting and gossiping. Also throughout the recording you can hear the clinking of cutlery, which clearly indicates the type of location the recording takes place in and therefore can be considered an archetype. Another archetype is the chairs moving at 0:19, 2:30 and 2:38. These evidence the fact that there are tables and chairs in this space and people moving in and out of them. There are no real soundmarks apparent in the recording. The laughter heard at different points could be considered a soundmark. The problem is that there is no sound that indicates that this isn’t just any old dining area.
This is a soundscape of the area around a waterfall at Mount Baldy. The TASCAM DR-40 sound recorder was attached to a tripod and placed approximately 8ft above ground level on a surrounding hill slope. The waterfall itself was surrounded by high slopes and directly in front of it was just open space.
About the Soundscape:
Keynotes – From the beginning to the end of the soundscape, the waterfall can be heard flowing through its path, formed by rocks. The wind is heard in the background throughout the recording but only comes to the forefront when it blows strongly a couple of times (no windshield was used)
One of the most constant soundmarks is the sound of hikers as well as families with small children coming to sit and hang around the peaceful waterfall. This waterfall is one of the main sites at Mount Baldy and there is always a chatter coming from around it.
The only signal that can be heard in this recording is the crunching of gravel from people walking along the dirt tracks. However, this is sound is almost inaudible as the paths were rather far away
Location: The Green Bowl, Pitzer College, Claremont, CA
Description of the space: The Green Bowl is located between East and West Dorms of Phase II at Pitzer College. The circular depression is covered in thick grass with a secant cement wall to one side.
Recording setup: The balloon was popped down in the grassy depression. The recorder was held 2 feet away from the balloon.
Max intensity: 82.81 dB
30 dB drop: 53.01 @ 0.128 seconds
50 dB drop: 32.10 dB @ 0.448 seconds
Minimum intensity: 31.7 dB @ .458 seconds
Back to ambient: ~30 dB @ .5 second
This space absorbed the sound of the popping balloon quickly as a result of the grassy enclosure and the outdoor environment. I hypothesized that the secant cement wall might result in an interesting reverberation however we did not encounter any statistically significant fluctuations in the sound decay.
This recording takes place on a central eating table between the doors and the buffet area of McConnell Dining Hall on Pitzer’s Campus at 11:15 pm on a beautiful Southern Californian Thursday afternoon. Situated between the two kiosks where drinks, where condiments and silverware can be found but in the center of the eating area, the majority of sounds are characteristic of socializing or of eating.
Keynotes: In this soundscape keynotes include the muffled yet lively conversation of nearby tables and the occasional squeak of footsteps and crash of closing doors. Later in the recording, a period of electrostatic interference results in clusters of “zaps” that seem to be focused around the 40 second mark. This could be a result of interference with a device passing by, or simply an anomaly.
Soundmarks: The characteristic sounds include students grabbing and using cutlery, the sound of ice crashing into the hard plastic dining hall cups, and the sound of students flipping pages, perhaps engaging in the classic procrastinator’s study binge before a noon class. Although these sounds may be heard at other dining halls, students from Pitzer–or any college–would be likely to associate these sounds with a particular dining hall. However relevant, it is unlikely that students feel any particular attachment to these sounds except perhaps subliminally as the background to their organized feeding frenzy.
Signals: There are no signals in this recording since none of the sounds are intended to convey a particular message.
Archetypes: In this average day in a modern dining hall such as McConnell, few sounds in this recording might be classified as possessing “felicitous symbolism” (the definition of an archetype); except as that of colligate dining halls across the country.
Location: Frary Dining Hall. Frary Dining hall is located on north campus of Pomona College (Claremont, CA). Because this recording was taken at approximately midnight on a Sunday (after Snack), the steps were completely empty except for 3 other students. The archway encloses the steps leading into West side entrance of Frary Dining Hall.
Description of the space: The steps leading into the West entrance of Frary Dining Hall has tremendously high ceilings making it an optimal space for a number of acapella group practices, and instrument playing. The steps descending the stairs in front of Frary Dining Hall has a mural of “Genesis” by Rico Lebrun.
Recording setup. For this recording, the microphone was placed on top of a round table while the 18” diameter balloon was popped about three feet away. The recording device was TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM Recorder.
Acoustic Description: The descending Frary DIning Hall steps enclosed by the archway amplifies sound at a greater capacity that a number of other locations around Pomona College’s campus. Because the space is incredibly vacant with characteristics of an open container, the sound was able to bounce and echo off of the space at a higher capacity. It took the balloon pop approximately 3.33s to decay, which can be explained by the acoustic power of these steps.
Location: Cardio Room at the Rains Center, Pomona College. Rains Center is located on the East side of Pomona College’s campus between Smiley Dorm and Big Bridges. The Rains center houses club, intramural, and varsity sports and is also a center for recreational physical activity. The cardio room overlooks 6th street and contains a number of treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and rowing machines.
Recording Setup. For this recording, the microphone was placed on the tiled floor separating the treadmills from the rest of the cardio room equipment. The recording device was TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM Recorder and was placed on the tri-pod stand and oriented towards the entrance/exit for the duration of the recording.
About the soundscape. This recording was taken at approximately 4:15pm on a Monday afternoon so there was a decent amount of traffic flowing through the gym including sports teams and recreational gym goers. The cardio room had about 4 people on the ellipticals and 1 person on the treadmill, however, the monotony of the treadmill seems to overpower the sounds originating from the ellipticals (which would be to the right of the recording device). The cardio room of Rains is fairly open with windows comprising two entire walls. the entrance/exit of the cardio room leads to the hallway which continues to an exit, or the rest of the Rains Center gym. Although the majority of the cardio room is carpeted, there is a strip of main walkway that is tiled.
Unlike other rooms of the gym, there is not really much talking going on in this space. There is also a lack of audible music that consumes the space, which means the vast majority of the sounds stem from the use of machinery. This allows for the beat-like hum of a student’s feet hitting the treadmill to be the keynote of the space. If you listen closely, there is a slower, lower volumed ticking that is occurring in the background which comes from students on the ellipticals. One could argue that the sound of the treadmills could also be a soundmark of this space, but I find the sound to be very similar to that of a slow moving train. Therefore, I do not find the cardio room to possess any audible soundmarks.
Of course, with the use of the equipment comes the pressing of buttons which happens sporadically throughout the recording. I posit that the pressing of buttons coupled with the sound of the exercise equipment would be an archetype sound of gyms or cardio rooms (to be more specific).
A very reverberant single-stall women’s bathroom within the property of El Barrio Park, located right along side CMC. The bathroom is built from concrete and hard stone.
Recording setup: I held the recorder as a friend of mine aided me in popping the balloon.
Reverberation times and such:
89.0 dB (maximum intensity)
47.3 dB (minimum intensity)
1.423444 seconds (drop by 50db)
0.132778 seconds (to maximum db)
1.551444 seconds (to return to around 36.190841 background)
The spectrogram and wave analysis in both Pratt and Audacity aided me in understanding the sounds shape and form on a more physical level. The balloon recording is short, so there isn’t many second nor even milliseconds before the actual pop ensues. The build and the drop both seem fast. Though I had expected a lengthy reverb when I decided on location, that is not what was displayed in the recording. The pop was fast and the initial reverb was strong, but it dropped quite quickly. In the spectrogram analysis, you can see how short the time span between pre-and post pop level similarities are.
The soundscape was recorded within the walls of Haldeman pool at Pomona. It was about 8:30 pm on Wednesday, March 5, 2014, and the water polo team was mid-practice.
With the coach’s permission, I stood in the corner of the walled-in pool area and recorded the minute-long recording above with the TASCAM DR-40 SOUND RECORDER. I kept the recorder generally pointed at the center of the pool.
About the soundscape
As previously stated, the recording documents a Wednesday evening water polo practice at the Pomona pool. It’s a full-sized pool surrounded by thick walls maybe 8 feet high. Out of the water are several other people, some coaches, some other team members not playing, and a few lifeguard chairs. The coaches are in steady but spaced out communication with the athletes in the pool. Most of the sound consists of the splashing of water, which I would label a sonic archetype of any active swimming pool as well as a keynote of the recording as it pervades the entire recording. In addition, one hears shouts and calls by the players and coaches, the blowing of a whistle, and the blunt smack of flesh hitting the ball, which is similar to a volleyball.
I would designate the sound of the whistleblowing a signal that there was some interruption in the game, be it a time-out or a goal scored. I hear the sporadic vocalizing of the team and the coaches as a sound mark, as well as the impact sound of players hitting the ball. These sounds plus that of the water allow our minds to locate ourselves in a water sports setting, and if we pay attention we can specify that the game involves a ball.
The event occurred in the middle of the Pomona Track. Picture a classic running track: an open grassy field surrounded by an oval track of probably a quarter mile circumference, and the land surrounding the track is slightly elevated forming a shallow bowl shape. There is also a rectangular metal equipment shed on the side of one of the straightaways of the track, probably 20 feet long.
Recording Setup / Recording Device
An 18” balloon was popped and recorded using a TASCAM DR-40 sound recorder. I stood in the center of the track and popped the balloon while a pal recorded the event with the microphone about 3 feet from the balloon and pointed in its direction. The pop was recorded on Wednesday, March 5 2014 at 9:00pm.
-Maximum Intensity: 86.85 dB
-Minimum Intensity: 34.91 dB
-30dB Decay: .03 s
-50dB Decay: 1.56 s
-Return to Background Level: 1.7 s
Using Pratt, the recording was edited down from just a moment before the pop to when the audio returns to its pre-pop levels. The visible sound graph that we get shows the sudden spike of the initial pop and its extremely brief decay, then a moment of near silence before we see a considerably softer but distinct echo. I’m quite sure that single echo is coming off of the equipment shed that stands on one side of the track.
The visible intensity contour plot gives us a similar image. There is the initial spike followed by a steep drop and then the clearly audible echo, which we can now see is just about half as loud as the initial event. The echo quickly dissipates back to the pre-pop background levels.
Again the same sonic event is visualized in the spectrogram. The initial pop makes up the massive window of frequency in the beginning, which immediately drops into the much softer echo and then decay.
This is a rectangular basement parking garage located underneath the Scripps College field. The space itself is made up of only concrete walls and pillars that cause sounds in the space to produce a prolonged echo. The lot was about half full, however, it must be noted that there were no cars around where the balloon was popped so as to avoid any of their alarms going off. There were no background sounds. The space was pin-drop silent while this balloon pop was recorded.
I used a TASCAM DR-40 sound recorder to record this reverberant space. My friend burst the balloon while I operated the sound recorder. The recorder was located approximately 4 feet from the balloon, which was popped in the middle of the parking lot.
30 dB decay: 1.3 seconds
50 dB decay: 2.3 seconds
60 dB decay: –
decay to background level: 2.9 seconds
Being an underground car park, the space was surrounded by nothing but cement (the walls, ceiling, pillars, and floor!). This meant that there was bound to be a prolonged echo no matter what. The fact that the parking lot was relatively empty only increased the chances of this happening. It is because of this echo that it takes the surrounding area so long (2.9 seconds) to return to its original sound level.
Due to the fact that the balloon was popped in a relatively enclosed solid space, it reached a massive 89.135 dB as its maximum intensity. From the spectrogram above we can see that there was barely any background noises prior to the balloon pop. This graph also shows that the sound lingers before dissipating slowly.
Description of the Space: The Shanahan Center for teaching and learning is the newest building on Harvey Mudd College’s campus, as of 2014. “The Shan” opens onto a set of wide stone ledges, leading down like stairs to the open basement level of the building. Sunk almost into a pit, the courtyard is nearly an ampitheater, and one could imagine performances on the rough tile ground. The stone along the walls is cool, smooth, and gray, and broken only by the glass wall of a lobby on the northern face. Above, open space stretches past the three stories of the building, the floors arranged so one would look up with the square walls framing the sky. From the first floor up, the walls are made of beige, plasticy tiles and windows. The courtyard is approximately 20 x 40 feet wide at the lowest level, with each ledge – along side smaller stairs – dropping down in steps about 3 feet wide and 3 feet tall.
Recording Setup: The microphone was placed at the edge of the lowest stone ledge, less than 1 foot from the edge and facing into the courtyard. The balloon was held 2.5 feet away from the microphone to combat ambient noise from outdoor sounds.
30 db Decay: 0.36 s
50 db Decay: 0.94 s
60 db Decay: 1.36 s
Decay to background level: 1.55 s
Acoustic Description: We see in the spectrogram above that the background noise of the space is only the 400 Hz and below range. The balloon pop is clearly seen as we have more intense presence of frequencies throughout the spectrum as it is popped. In the spectrogram, we see not just the decaying of the overall sound to the background noise, but can see that the higher frequencies fall out first, while middle frequencies (up to about 1000 Hz) remain for the longest. Overall, the reverb time of 1.36 s is fairly fast. The courtyard echoes sounds, though the echo is not contained in the recording, but the length of the pop is sustained only for the brief moment. The stone walls reflect the sound back, but the steps and floor are more porous, and absorb the sound.
The longer sustained middle frequencies seen in the spectrogram may almost be taken for a muddiness in sound; what sounds that do carry are carried indistinctly. The rest of the reverberation is a general woosh of air that might almost be confused with the wind knocking down a chair or table. Still, the reflection off of the walls is audible in the recording.
It is of note that this courtyard is referred to sometimes as the “Shakespeare Plaza,” as the hope is that it will be a live performance space. Given the echoing and muddiness, it may prove to be an unwise decision, but as the space is untested for such performances as of 3/6/14, only time will tell.
Location: The Hoch Shanahan dining hall is located in the middle of Harvey Mudd College’s campus. Within, the hall is primarily serviced by a single, large, open room. Though as tall as two story buildings elsewhere on campus, the hall itself is only on the ground level; within the dining space, the ceiling is very tall. The north wall is entirely windows or glass doors, and the ceiling is broken by skylights. The food service area is separated from the seating by a wood paneled structure that supports drink machines. In both the dining space and the service space, the floor is tile. The chairs are plastic, and the tables only appear wooden on the surfaces. In the food service area, counters are chrome or otherwise metallic, with sneeze guards all around. At the time of recording, the dining hall was several minutes into Sunday dinner: not the most populous meal, but various bodies entered and exited the hall and various areas, sparsely filling seats and eating.
Recording Setup: The microphone was placed on a table in the center of the dining area, pointed away from the north windows and slightly up, almost aiming at the open space above the service area. The table it was on had no people sitting at it, but surrounding tables were occupied.
About the soundscape:
At the time of the recording, the Hoch is quiet compared to it’s usual buzz of human activity. Still, there was a general hum of people talking almost constantly present; this is a keynote of the space, and is so typical a sound that it is tuned out almost to background noise. Similarly, intermittent clattering can be heard. This comes from both silverware on plates in the dining area, and the shifting of serving platters in the back. These clinks and clacks are an archetype, since the space is foremost a dining hall which means food and the presence of these utensils to consume it. Various signals are present as well. About 5 seconds into the recording (0:05), a beep can be heard. This is an individual “tapping into” the dining hall, arriving for dinner. At 1:05, a chair scraping against the ground is heard, signaling the arrival of someone else to a table. The sounds coalesce into a clearly social space, but still one primarily for dining. It is arguable whether or not any soundmarks are present in the recording. One may argue that the distinct laughter heard at 0:14, sticking out from the background noise, is a sound of joy. It may be worth preserving, as it s a characteristic only achievable in a relaxed, open atmosphere. But it may also be just a signal of the individual’s amusement, conveyed and then dissipating into the background again.
Location: Seal Court is a courtyard at Scripps College. Four single story buildings enclose the courtyard. The west wall is the Malott dining hall, the Motley Coffee House serves as the north wall, the student mail room is the south wall, and the east wall is a career student resource building. In the center of the court is a large water feature that includes two fountains in the form of seals facing each other. I would describe the sound of the fountain as the space’s keynote. Students often sit outside in Seal Court to enjoy their meals from Malott or their coffees from the Motley. This contributes to the wide variety of soundscapes the space can offer: At some times of the day, the court is serene, with only water falling into the pond sounding. At other times, for instance around noon on a sunny day, the courtyard is typically bustling with students and faculty.
The recording included here was taken at a time of quiet and calm, at 9:30 on a Tuesday morning. At this time, many students are heading to their 9:35 a.m. classes. In the soundscape included, a very careful listening will reveal the patter of feet shuffling across the brick ground of the courtyard, and the gentle fall of the water from the Seals’ mouths. Mostly, this soundscape speaks to the tranquility of the courtyard on a sunny Tuesday morning. Recording
Device: TASCAM DR-40 recording device Recording setup: The recorder was set on the brick ledge surrounding the central water feature.
Description of the space.
The acoustic space chosen was the basement of Kimberly—one of the dorms on Scripps campus. To get to the basement, one must go down a set of narrow concrete stairs. There is a laundry room directly in front of the staircase and the basement continues onward as a long hallway with various locked rooms for storage. The end of the basement hallway—furthest from the laundry room—was chosen as the location for the balloon pop.
Recording setup and recording device.
An 18” balloon was popped and recorded using a TASCAM DR-40 SOUND RECORDER. The recorder was held about one foot away from the balloon during recording. The microphone was pointed directly at the balloon where the puncture was made. This recording was made on Wednesday, February 19th 2014 at 8:00pm.
• Maximum Intensity: 91.18 dB
• Minimum Intensity: 26.52 dB
• 30dB drop after 1.07 s
• 50dB drop after 1.81 s
• Reached minimum intensity after 0.43 s
• Reached maximum intensity after 0.60 s
• Returned to pre-pop intensity level after 3.33 s
Using Audacity, the balloon pop recording was cut when the waveform diagram appeared to return to pre-popping conditions. The Audacity waveform diagram of this recording is identical to the one generated using Praat.
Graph of sound waveform generated using Praat.
However, the Visible Intensity Contour plot demonstrates that the reverberations had not quite ceased yet.
Visible Intensity Contour plot was generated using Praat.
This is evident from the spectrogram as well.
Spectrogram generated using the Audacity.
The shading before and after the pop are not quite the same shade—meaning the recording was cut a bit short. Despite the premature cut off, the long-lasting reverb tells us that the acoustic space is likely to be narrow and made of material that readily reflects sound (rather than absorbs the sound).
Recording setup and recording device.
This soundscape was recorded using a TASCAM DR-40 SOUND RECORDER. This recording was taken in the Motley Coffeehouse on Wednesday, February 19th 2014 at 8:20pm. The recorder was attached to a tripod and was placed on the counter facing the espresso machine behind the bar. The microphones were opened such that the general area where baristas prepare drinks could be captured.
About the soundscape.
The Motley is located in Seal Court near Malott Commons on Scripps College campus. The building is small, and is divided into two sections: the seating area and the bar. Motley is typically crowded with students studying at tables, on couches, or sprawled out on the music stage.
Photo courtesy of the Motley website.
The bar is where the main entrance is located and where customers order food and drinks.
Photo courtesy of the Motley tumblr page.
The recording was specifically taken at the bar with the microphone pointing toward the espresso machine. This gives the listener an opportunity to experience the auditory perspective of a Motley barista. The recording captures the process of making a mocha. Sounds of a barista pulling espresso shots and mixing them with chocolate and steamed milk can be heard. Music, baristas talking, and a student placing an order can also be heard in the background. Sounds that could be described as archetypal for coffeehouses could be the background music and the sound of the various machines. A signal present in this recording would be the one customer placing an order. The softness of the girl’s voice indicates that the recording was taken at a time when the coffeeshop is not busy. Another signal is the lack of drinks being called out at regular intervals. From these signals, it is likely that the sounds were recorded during the evening hours since the motley is typically busy in early morning hours. A keynote of this recording would be the music and voices in the background because they are both constants throughout the recording where the listener does not need to actively pay attention. From the perspective of all baristas as a community, the sound of the coffee grinder and the running of water as espresso shots are pulled could be seen as soundmarks of a coffeehouse.
Location: Frary Dining Hall. Frary Dining hall is located on north campus of Pomona College (Claremont, CA). Because this recording was taken at approximately midnight on a Sunday (after Snack), the space was completely empty of people except for a worker and a friend who sat silently nearby.
Description of the space: Frary dining hall is an enclosed eating space with cathedral-like high ceilings. The floor is tiled and the seating arrangements follow no specific order. The majority of the furniture is composed of wood. There is a separate space where students are able to get food as well as dispose of their dishes. There are also two separate private dining locations within this space. For this recording, the main doors to the dining hall were closed including the doors that lead to the food area.
Recording setup. For this recording, the microphone was placed on top of a round table while the 18” diameter balloon was popped about three feet away. The recording device was TASCAM DR-40 Linear PCM Recorder.
Location: The Oratory in the Margaret Fowler Garden, Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Description of the space: The Oratory is located in the Scripps College Margaret Fowler Garden. It is a relatively small, circular place of worship, with a single stained glass feature. There is little furniture in the room to obscure the sound waves. There is a statue on the east wall and the door that opens to the garden is opposite, on the west end.
Recording setup: The balloon was popped in the center of the circular oratory. The TASCAM DR-40 recording device was held 3 feet away from the balloon.
Reverberation time: 3.38 seconds
Max intensity: 73.48 dB at 1.03 sec
30 dB drop: 1.71 seconds following max intensity
50 dB drop: 3.37 seconds following max intensity
Minimum intensity: 20.02 dB
Back to ambient: 20.24 dB 3.66 seconds following max intensity
Acoustic Description: The Oratory proved to be a very interesting acoustic space. As the sound decays, the reverberation sounds almost homophonic, with the archetypal reverberation sound accompanied by what sounds like a drone tone below it. This tone is the final sound to entirely diminish. This is likely due to the shape of the room and its small size. Whether there is intentionality in the acoustic design is of interest. As an Oratory, it is possible the space was designed with, at least, speech in mind, if not also vocal music.
Location. The Honnold Café is on the first floor of the Honnold Mudd library. The library is central to the Claremont colleges – it sits right between Pomona, Scripps, CMC, and CGU, and serves as a study space for students from all of the colleges and graduate schools.
Recording Setup. A table in the center of the cafe, about 15 feet from the cafe counter, with the recorder pointed towards the counter.
About the Soundscape. It’s 4 pm on a Sunday, so there are plenty of people in the café studying and ordering coffees to help with their studying. The café is large, with low ceilings and wood-paneled square pillars about every 15 feet. There are square tables, couches, and chairs littered everywhere, and all of them are occupied. The walls are a dull beige, and the floor is carpeted with a print that would not look out of place in an airport. It seems like the library has spent some money on lighting fixtures to make the place feel hip, but there are too many of these trendy lighting fixtures to make them feel original and not mass-ordered from a trendy-library-lighting catalog. Talking is allowed in this part of the library, so there is light chatter, the main keynote of the space. I would designate the sound of conversations as an archetype sound of cafes, a representation of discourse and learning and academic banter.
It is difficult not to listen to neighboring conversations. Surprisingly, the microphone did not pick up the conversation of two female students sitting a mere 3 feet away from me, probably a good thing as I did not want to intrude on their private conversation. Conversational noise, when interesting enough, can function as a signal noise by directing my attention away from my own studying.
Wherever you are in the sitting area beyond the counter, you can hear the espresso machine whirring away to prepare coffee orders, and you can hear the clanging of the barista loosening the used espresso grounds from the portafilter after she has made an order. Both of these espresso-related sounds, the whirring and the clanging, are the prominent keynotes of the cafe counter, though the portafilter clanging is loud enough to be a signal. My brain snaps to it whenever it occurs. Other keynotes emanating from behind the counter include the electric buzz of the freezer and the squelching noise whenever someone opens it. Another signal that happens at about 10 seconds into the soundscape is the whirring of a blender behind the counter. This is so loud, that I’m often surprised cafe patrons don’t get annoyed by it.
Description of the space. Foyer outside Seaver Auditorium, between Seaver North and Seaver South buildings, Pomona College.
Seaver Auditorium is host to many events in the natural science departments at Pomona College. It holds large introductory science classes such as General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Introductory Physics, and others. Visiting lecturers give their talks in the auditorium. Accordingly, the foyer outside it is also full of people on a regular basis. Whenever the large sections in the auditorium get out, the foyer is filled with students. After an Organic Chemistry exam, students hang out in the foyer afterwards, nervously discussing what they wrote. After a lecture from an esteemed visitor, groups of professors and students congregate in the foyer, chatting for long after the talk is over.
The foyer itself is not much to look at. It is a utilitarian 30 ft cube with one open face pointed towards College Avenue, a major thru street (see diagram below). It is made entirely of grey concrete, with no ornamentation except for the back wall, where the doors to the auditorium are. This wall has vertical grooves spaced 2-3 inches apart. I wonder if this is to help with reverberation, since the space is entirely concrete. Four square pillars are evenly spaced in the center. The floor is made of dull reddish brown tile. The metal double doors to the auditorium are dented from wear.
Recording setup. I popped the balloon about 5 feet in front of the doors to the auditorium. The microphone was located about 10 feet away, sitting on a concrete bench, about 2 feet from the concrete wall (see diagram below).
30 dB decay: 0.64 sec
50 dB decay: 1.42 sec
60 dB decay: 2.35 sec
Decay to background level: 2.92 sec
Acoustic Description. The foyer readily amplifies and echoes sound—the microphone was at least 10 feet away and still picked up a maximum decibel level of 85 dB. This is due to all the hard surfaces present, as there is nothing but concrete walls, concrete ceiling, concrete floor, and metal doors. The balloon pop had a relatively long decay time: it took 2.9 sec to return to the background noise level.
The foyer has significant background noise, since it readily amplifies passing cars on College Ave, which is about 50 feet from the opening. This can be seen in the spectrogram: there is noticeable volume in the 20 to 200 Hz range before the balloon pop. These frequencies are intensified with the balloon pop, but after the higher frequencies associated with the balloon pop have decayed, this background noise is still present. This suggests that the foyer is adept for echoing sounds in this lower range.
You can listen to a related recording “The Cafe, Mudd, 1:05pm on Monday” here.
This soundscape sample was recorded at The Cafe in Shanahan Center at Harvey Mudd College. It was around 2:35, and because many classes in the Shanahan building that began at 1:15 end at 2:30, we can expect a huge influx of people in the cafe. I was holding the recording device with its two mics facing toward the counter and people lined up.
Unlike the recording done at the same place about an hour ago (where there weren’t as many people), the background music is almost inaudible because of all the sound generated from the people around the location. Near the end of the recording, as some people move away from the location (or exit the room), the music becomes a lot more noticeable. We still hear the same steam noise and some metallic clangs which comes from either the coffee machine or other various kitchen tools. However, now all these noises are more or less blended together and less prominent that they were in the earlier recording (The Cafe, Mudd, 1:05pm on Monday). These background noises aren’t constant throughout the recording, however, and it is hard to decide whether these noises can be considered as keynote of the soundscape. On the other hand, we hear at least a couple conversations among several students pretty clearly, at least compared to the muffled conversation we hear in the earlier recording. This is mostly because the students were quite close to the recording device. Nonetheless, the Cafe was pretty crowded at the time so even if I tried picking a different spot within the room, I probably would have ended up with at least one person near me and the recording device. I consider these conversations as a signal. They are exchanging information in the form of questions and answers (“He has.” “He did?” “Did you take a picture of it?” “Do you have class?”).
This picture was taken from the western/top-most portion of the stadium.
Location: This soundscape was taken at 2:15 on Monday, February 10th, 2014 on top of Fritz B. Burns Stadium at Claremont-McKenna College.
Recording Setup: The recorder was placed on the top-most purple bleacher (see picture) on the west third of the stadium. It was located furthest east on this third of the stadium. About a foot from behind the recorder was a concrete wall that was around 3 feet high.
Recording Device: TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder, set to volume 33
About the Soundscape:
This space really demonstrates the sense of calmness and quiet that is present in the non-classroom-setting of the Claremont Colleges in the middle of a weekday. One keynote of this soundscape is the scraping sound of the groundskeepers shoveling dirt and sand at the softball field. Interestingly, sound seems to carry very well from atop this stadium, and we can hear the rise and fall of the sand fairly distinctly even though it is far away. This keynote is also probably seasonal because maintenance seems to be occurring on the field areas mainly during the peak of sports’ seasons. Another keynote present here is wind, which I did not originally associate with the Claremont Colleges, but atop the stadium, it is quite prevalent. The main soundmark of this stadium is the runner we hear towards the end of this recording. This is not only an archetypal soundmark to signify that this is an athletic area with a track, but one that also distinguishes it from Pomona’s track, acting as an actual soundmark. If we heard a runner on Pomona’s track, which does not have stadium bleachers, the sound of her footsteps would be much softer and of a different quality since track material is rubberized and absorbant. In contrast, we hear the runner’s cushiony sounding steps at first (while he is on the track), followed by slightly reverberating, louder steps, made by the runner’s shoes on the concrete of the stadium steps as he runs up and down.
This recording was taken at 12:35pm on Tuesday, February 11th, 2014 in the courtyard of Seaver Theater, which is located at 312 E. 4th Street, Claremont, CA. 91711 (see above satellite image by GoogleMaps).
Recording setup: The recorder (on its tripod) was set in the middle of the courtyard on the concrete ground, and all backpacks and other recording materials were moved far out of the way. The balloon was popped approximately three feet in front of the recorder and four and a half feet above it.
Recording device: TASCAM DR-40 Sound Recorder, set to volume 33
30 dB decay: 0.209 seconds
50 dB decay: 2.554 seconds
decay to background level: 2.556 seconds (but reached minimum post-pop sound level at 4.1573 seconds)
60 dB decay: did not occur
As we can see, the above sound images show a fairly fast initial drop in sound at the onset of the balloon pop (down 30dB), followed by a slower decrease to the minimum level of post-pop sound. We can try to account for these characteristics by analyzing the spatial features of the vicinity of the balloon pop. Seaver Theater is normally a fairly quiet space, but because of the construction of the new art building nearby, the background noise level during this time was fairly high. I thought that recording around 12:30 would minimize potential conflicting background noise, since students would not be walking to class at the theater and the many of the construction workers would be on lunch breaks. Also, there are many trees and branching plants in and surrounding the courtyard, so many birds nest here (as one might hear on this recording before the balloon pop). This fact might be able to explain why the sound level actually dropped to 26.2dB, or below the level of pre-pop background noise (which was about, on average, 32.4dB). The birds’ reaction times to the noise would then also contribute to how fast the sound level dropped to its minimum point.
Furthermore, the courtyard of Seaver Theater is surrounded by tall, cement walls, where sound can bounce off and reverberate. Indeed, there is even a tall, cement staircase (at the southernmost part of the courtyard in the satellite image above) that the balloon was popped from about 8 feet away. There are only a few places where sound can escape. The most obvious is from the top, as no ceiling exists in this courtyard. There are also various entry and exit-ways through which sound may escape. Thus, although the sound might have dropped fast at first (due to the initial decay out of the courtyard through the top opening and sides), bits of it were still left over, reverberating back and forth off the high walls until all the sound was finally able to “bounce” out of the courtyard and into the sky.
You can listen to a related recording “The Cafe, Mudd, 2:35pm on Monday” here.
This soundscape sample was recorded at The Cafe in Shanahan Center at Harvey Mudd College. It was around 1:05, which is for most people in between lunch and their 1:15 pm class. The recording device was placed on one of the tables close to the counter, toward which the recorder’s two mics were facing.
There were only about 3-4 people (who were making noise/sound anyway) at the location, probably because it was right after lunch hours. Most of the sound is generated from the background music, various machines in the kitchen, and a small group of students discussing their work. The background music seems to be the keynote here. Although its volume is not small, one may be able to notice from its muffled sound and slight reverb that it is in fact played in the background throughout the entire space for the purpose of creating an ambience. Combining the sound of music with the machine (or clinging metal) noise, one may also consider this soundscape to be an archetype of a modern day cafe (at the beginning, we also hear a male voice ordering a drink). If you listen closely to the conversation between three male students, you may be able to figure out they are working on some kind of a math/science assignment (a word “complex conjugate” at 20.5 s is pretty audible). At 23 s, you hear a male voice saying “thank you.” Knowing the sample was recorded in a cafe, one may consider this to be a signal that the guy who ordered his drink in the beginning of the recording had just received his drink.
I was in Wig Lounge early in the morning. It was very quiet. The lounge is very peaceful; the ceiling is about normal height, maybe a bit lower. Carpeted floors, a lot of chairs, and few windows. I stood with the balloon about 3 feet from the microphone, which was sitting on the table.
Reverberation time: .0658741 seconds
30 dB decay: 0.384 seconds
50 dB decay: 1.194666 seconds
60 dB decay: N/A
decay to background level: 1.205333 seconds
It was the Pomona-Pitzer vs. CMS Mens’ Basketball game. The stands were full of fans. One side of the room had all the college students cheering for their team, and the other side had mostly parents, teachers, some students, and children. The men were playing on the court, the basketball pounding on the floor, and reps blowing their whistles and making calls. When a basket was scored or the ref made a favorable call, the crowds went wild. I stood near the western entrance to the gym inside the building. For part of the time, I held the recording device in my hands while watching the game. Later on, I sat on the bleachers and set up the microphone right by me on the bleacher level in front of me.
About the soundscape: This was recorded at a Pomona-Pitzer vs. CMS baseball game during parents weekend. I was recording from the bleachers slightly above the field on the third base side.
Signals in this soundscape include the applause and encouragement from parents and fans in the stands.
The main Keynote in this soundscape is the crack of the bat against the ball. A defining and unique sound of a baseball game that tells you why the people you initially hear chattering are there.
The crack of the bat is also an archetype, as well as some sounds that were cut off by the shortening of the recording to 2mb. One important archetype is the introduction song that is played for each new player who comes to bat. This is also a signal because each player has his own snippet of a different song played, communicating who is coming to bat.
The only soundmark I could hear would potentially be the birds chirping in the background.
Description of the Space: I went to the amphitheatre in between Pitzer’s freshman and sophomore dorms. This area is outdoors, with large buildings relatively nearby to the north and south, Claremont boulevard is to the east, and another dorm is much farther away to the west. Immediately, the balloon was surrounded on all sides by amphitheatre seating.
The soundscape is of the main room of the Platt Campus Center on Harvey Mudd. This room is very large, 100ft x 100ft at least, and has high plaster ceilings (~30 feet high) and wooden flooring. The room is furnished with a few dozen couches, tables, and rolling whiteboards, and has wooden and glass walls.
This space serves as a “living room” for many students at Mudd; they hang out on the couches, work on the whiteboards, and use the coffee machine to support their caffeine addictions. Tutoring hours for most classes are held in Platt, and team or group meetings often happen here. Additionally, college-sponsored fun events are usually held in Platt Due to this, the students have a sort of love-hate relationship with the space; it represents hours spent doing work, but also can be the setting for group bonding and fond memories.
Audible in this recording are the sonic archetypes of an academic building where students work together: footsteps on the hard wooden flooring and the ever-present murmur of students checking answers or asking each other questions. The “ka-chunk” of the door next to the mailroom and the beeping and hissing of the coffee machines are soundmarks very distinct to Platt. Also in this recording, we can hear the students playing and singing along to music as they work, which could be a keynote, because students sing along to music enough that it isn’t too remarkable.
Location: This recording was taken in a 4-story stairwell in the Jacobs Science Building on Harvey Mudd Campus.
Description of the Space: I took the balloon pop recording on the 1st floor landing in the stairwell between Jacobs and Keck on Harvey Mudd Campus. This is a stairwell that spans 4 stories; the stairs themselves are concrete, the doors are heavy and wooden, and the walls are plastered. The stairwell is open in the sense that one can stand at the very bottom and look up the center and see all the way up. For this recording, I closed all the doors so the stairwell was isolated, placed the recorder 3 steps up from the 1st floor landing, and popped the balloon on the 1st floor landing (this means the recorder was about 6 feet from the balloon).
Maximum intensity: 74.4 dB
30 dB drop: 2.5 s after peak
50 dB drop: 2.8 s after peak
Minimum intensity: 18.1 dB
The space apparently reverberates at 200, 500, 1000 Hz.
Praat Findings. Balloon Pop Maximum intensity level 92.67dB, Minimum intensity level 42.07dB
Reverberation Times. Drop to 30dB .89 seconds, Drop to 50dB 2.14 seconds, Drop to 60dB Did not drop to 60dB, Seconds to reach minimum 1.54 seconds, Seconds to return to Pre Pop 2.3 seconds
Audacity Acoustic description. The Spectrogram reveals frequencies peaking a 3000 Hz and lasting for almost 2 seconds. It was also strong between 100 and 600Hz range. Background frequencies were 600Hz and below.
Overall, the spectrogram shows the Balloon explosion was absorbed and dampened very quickly over the Audible Hearing Range, which would be the acoustic goal of a well designed Theater.
Location: Claremont’s College Park is an outdoor park located at 440 S. College Ave.
Recording Setup: (Recording device: TASCAM-40).Recorder was propped on the floor approximately 12ft away from a baseball field.
About the Soundscape: The recording was done near one of the many baseball fields closest to the parking lot. There was a youth boys baseball team practicing during the recording. The coach had some boys do drills out on the field and another coach was teaching a few boys how to hit the ball on the side practice arena. In addition, many parents were standing around the baseball field watching their kids practice.
Location: Claremont Pooch Park is an outdoor park for dogs located at 100S. College Ave.
Recording Setup: (Recording device: TASCAM-40).Recorder was set on a bench in the playground for big dogs, approximately 10ft away from the dogs.
About the Soundscape: This park has two separate playground areas: one for big dogs and the other for small dogs. Dogs and their owners not only exercise, but also socialize here. There were many dogs and dog owners on the day of the recording. Some dogs played with other dogs while others played fetch with their owners.
Location: Bridges Auditorium, Pomona College, Claremont, CA
Description of the space: Bridges Auditorium, also called “Big Bridges” was built in 1931 and is located in Pomona College. This building can be described as a “free adaptation of northern Italian Renaissance architecture.” Its exterior design consists of stairs leading to its columns supporting high vaulted arches and three wooden entrance doors. Above the arches, near the top of this building, are five engraved faces and names of the composers: Wagner, Chopin, Beethoven, Bach, and Schubert. If you shout or make a sound louder than a certain threshold, the building right across Big Bridges, Carnegie, will echo your sound.
Recording setup: The recorder and the balloon were both placed about 4 inches above the ground and approximately 6ft apart in front of the center entrance door of Big Bridges.
Max intensity: 84.34 dB @ 0.12 sec 30 dB drop: 54.34 dB @ ~ 0.45 sec, took .33 sec after max intensity 50 dB drop: 34.34 dB @ ~1.11 sec, took .99 sec after max intensity Back to ambient: 29 dB @ ~1.46 sec, took 1.34 sec after max intensity
Minimum intensity: 27.92 dB, no 60dB drop
Acoustic Description: It is interesting that the balloon pop sounded muffled or dampenedin an “outdoor” atmosphere. The sound waves must have significantly bounced off of Big Bridges’s columns, high vaulted arches, and ceiling roof. However, since the microphone was placed facing Marston Courtyard and there was no wall to contain the sound, the sound waves could have escaped to the open atmosphere and decreased the maximum intensity to the point where there wasn’t a 60dB drop. In the spectrogram, there is a slight increase in intensity starting at 9 secs and a faint dark spot around 13.2-13.6 secs This is most likely due to the sounds I made while walking towards the microphone to stop the recording. There was also an airplane or helicopter in the background around that time frame.
Location: Claremont’s Metro Station is an outdoor station situated in-between streets near 1st Street and College Avenue. Providing public transportation to passengers, the train travels up to 90mph (132 feet per second) and weighs approximately 450 tons. There is a parking lot for passengers to park their cars, a shopping center, and a dog park nearby. During this recording, there were about 3-5 people waiting for the train in the afternoon.
Recording Setup: (Recording device: TASCAM-40).Recording was done near the ticket machines on a bench. Microphones were set up in opposite directions approximately 5ft. away from the train. The train was coming from the left side of the recorder.
About the soundscape: Before the metro arrived, two railway-crossing signs, each within approximately one block away in the vicinity of this station, signaled nearby vehicles to stop with 2 distinct, quick and repetitive bell-like sounds and railroad crossing gates. The train then blew its horns: two long, one short, and one long. When the train was one-half mile away from the stop, it gradually began to slow down, making an overpowering screeching noise that overrode the bell sounds. Once the train came to a complete stop, the doors opened for the passengers and an announcer made announcements. After all the passengers got on board, the doors closed and the train departed. The noise created from the acceleration of the train’s engines dominated the soundscape. However, once the train left, the soundscape consisted of people making noises.
Keynotes: Since this metro station is situated in an outdoor atmosphere and in-between streets, the keynote is composed of the everyday sound that nearby vehicles, pedestrians, and any other common organisms make; for example, people talking, their footsteps, the sound of passengers rolling their baggage, nearby car sounds, etc. The soundscape was recorded on a windy day, so the sounds generated by the wind can also be identified as a keynote.
Soundmarks: The main sound from this soundscape is the horn: two long, one short, and one long. The train’s horn sounds are loud enough to be heard on Pomona College’s South Campus dorms such as Lyon, Harwood, etc.
Signals: The rapid bell sounds that the railroad crossing signals make and the horn of the train can be identified as signals of the soundscape. Both sounds signal the passengers that the train is about to arrive.
Location: This recording was taken on the patio of the building at Larkin Park at Cambridge and Harrison.
Description of the Space:On the North side of the intersection of Cambridge Ave. and Harrison Ave. is a small park. There is a building with a south facing glass wall with a patio and shelter in front of it. The recording was take near the center of the concrete patio that extends the length of the building (~100ft), protruding about 5ft. The wall facing the patio is almost completely made out of glass with some brick, and faces an enclosed rectangular field and parking lot. The recording was taken around 8am.
Recording Setup: The microphone was raised about 4ft from the ground, and the the balloon was popped about 5ft away, using a Tascam DR-40.
Max intensity: 81.47 dB
30 dB drop: 0.18 seconds
50 dB drop: 0.59 seconds
Minimum intensity: 21.12 dB @ 2.0 seconds
Back to ambient: ~21 dB @ 2.0 seconds
Acoustic Description: The space’s only facing walls are the cement ground and wooden ceiling, not giving the sound much to reverberate off of. But, because of the hard surfaces, a slapping echo is heard once (it is also visible in the spectrograph). The grassy field that the space faces is surrounded by stone walls, which would make sense as having been what caused the echo.
Location: The intersection is a stoplight a block outside of the main village. There are homes on the north side of Bonita, apartments on the south. There is a bus stop on the northwest corner, and an audible cross walk speaker on every corner telling the crosser when the button has been pressed and when it is safe to cross which direction. Though not present in the recording, there is a train crossing a block down Cambridge, which is very audible from the intersection. A block east on Bonita are the fore and police stations, so sirens often pass.
The soundscape recording was made at Pitzer college in front of the admissions office next to the Mesa parking lot. The ZOOM H2N recorder was placed on a low rock wall.
About the soundscape.
Keynotes: Keynote sounds in this soundscape include that of air ventilation that can be heard in the background throughout the recording, The wheels of small electric vehicles,footsteps of people walking by, A leaf is heard scraping the ground blown by the wind. There are a fair amount of bird sounds and frequent noise of small airplane traffic as the building is near a municipal airport. A car starting and driving by indicates this is near a parking lot.
Soundmarks: The soundmarks do not indicate clearly where this place is. There is an incongruent mix of natural, mechanical, artificial and human sounds in seeming random order.
Signals: The small electrical vehicle activate a beeping sound when they back up and this is a signal that is well known..
Archetypes: The small airplane traffic indicates that this is an area that may contain an airport.
Location. Frank Dining Hall, on the campus of Pomona College, at Sunday brunch around noon. Specifically, the recording site was the wall of the room in which the food is served that is located by the door to the meeting room near the pizza and dessert serving areas. There are various serving areas throughout the room, both on the sides and in the middle, that break up the space. As one of the two dining halls on Pomona’s campus, and as the closest one to all South Campus dorms, Frank is a popular destination for students on Sunday mornings (or early afternoons) to fill their stomachs and to recount the weekend’s adventures. Many of the sounds captured thus relate either to serving food or socializing.
About the soundscape.
Keynotes: Keynote sounds in this soundscape include that of air ventilation that can be heard in the background throughout the recording, the squeak of shoes, footsteps of people walking by, and the fairly muffled voices of brief background conversations among students and workers; when in Frank, these sounds are not noticed unless one tries to pay attention to them. Various unclear noises, like rustling, that are heard at times in the recording are also keynotes.
Soundmarks: The noticeable soundmarks of Frank are the clinking of silverware being grabbed and the clattering of plates being set down or picked up; the intensity of these sounds varies throughout the recording, but they are quite common and noticeable in Frank due to the noisy nature of the plates and silverware holders there.
Signals: There are not any signals in this recording of the soundscape since none of the sounds are created with the intent of conveying a message.
Archetypes: The two soundmarks of clinking silverware and clattering plates can also be viewed as sonic archetypes, as the sounds of silverware and plates are widespread indicators of dining halls in general.
Location. Restroom B12, on the second floor of Blaisdell Residence Hall at Pomona College.
Description of the space. This bathroom is a medium-sized, rectangular room with tile floors and three drywall walls. The fourth side of the room has a shower curtain drawn across it, with a bit of space above the curtain. The side opposite that has protruding sinks and mirrored cabinets. In the corner of the room is a walled-off area for the toilet. Thus, the rectangular shape of the room is broken up by protruding objects on various walls.
Recording setup. The microphone and balloon were six feet apart from each other. The microphone stood between the two sinks on the countertop, close to the wall. The balloon was popped from a height of almost six feet, at a spot close to both the shower curtain and the walled-off toilet area. Though near two “walls” of sorts, this location was near the center of the room.
maximum intensity: 80.13 dB
minimum intensity: 34.77 dB
30 dB decay: 0.62 sec
40 dB decay: 0.92 sec
decay to minimum: 4.02 sec
decay to pre-pop background level of 41.34 dB: 0.82 sec
Acoustic description. Because the space is fairly contained, with many hard walls and surfaces for sound waves to bounce off of, the sound does reverberate pretty strongly. However, there are avenues for sound to escape, as well; the curtained wall especially, along with the spaces under the door and under the walled-off area for the toilet, allow the sound to dissipate and prevent the humming noise after the balloon pop from approaching one specific frequency too closely.
Location: The quad between the four inner dorms of Harvey Mudd College. This is a grassy area with paved pathways running along the sides and dividing up sections of grass into large squares of about 250 square feet. The four inner dorms, each shaped like the letter U, open up into the quad. The recorder was placed in the middle of one of these grassy squares on top of the padded carrier it came with.
About the soundscape:
Keynotes: At the very beginning of the recording, the wind makes its appearance and establishes itself as a prominent keynote of this area. Throughout the recording, there are moments when the wind overpowers all other sounds of this soundscape, but this is mostly due to the microphone having no shielding. Another keynote might be the sound of aircraft over the quad. During the recording, two different aircraft fly overheard and this sound should be considered a keynote since this happens so often and it is not always noticed.
Soundmarks: The main sound that comes to mind is the music playing in the background. If you ever travel to the quad during the afternoon or night, you will most likely hear one of the dorms blasting music from speakers. This is a sound that is important to the community around the quad and unique to this area.
Signals: In the second half of the recording, there is a span of several seconds where there seems to be some clapping going on.Clapping is usually a signal of some sort and this might have been applause of some sort for someone performing in the quad. Also, there is human conversation throughout which is another signal.
Location: Case Dorm courtyard, Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA
Description of the space: The courtyard is a lowered area in the center of the building that forms the dorm. The dorm building is two stories tall and forms a shape resembling the letter C. The building material seems to be some sort of pink brick. The courtyard has two main levels, with some wooden tables on each of the levels. The upper level is at the same level as the base of the building. The second level is 6 steps below the level of building.
Recording setup: The balloon was popped 5 feet above the lower level of the courtyard. The recorder was placed on a table 3 feet away from the balloon.
Max intensity: 75.25 dB
30 dB drop: 45.25 dB @ 0.2 seconds
50 dB drop: 25.27 dB @ 0.75 seconds
Minimum intensity: 20.10 dB @ 2.3 seconds
Back to ambient: 24 dB @ 1 second
Acoustic Description: There does not seem to be any interesting acoustic qualities in this space. I think the main reason for this is due to there being no roof overhead. The courtyard is surrounded by walls except for one pathway that leads into the courtyard. If there was a roof, a lot of the sound would be reflected around the courtyard multiple times before dying down in intensity or escaping through the pathway.
Location. A tree-filled garden stretches along the southern edge of Marston Quad, near Fourth Street. Although college tourguides still call it a Shakespeare garden, it is now mostly planted with plants appropriate to California (including giant sequoia trees, of which one or two are still standing but not doing well in this climate). For this recording, the microphone rested about six inches above the westernmost of the three concrete walkways that cross the garden, about 65 feet due north of Thatcher Music Building.
About the soundscape. Two kinds of sounds are constant in this recording. First is the steady hum of a machine that was being operated in the distance, probably at Smith Campus Center on the opposite corner of the Quad. It’s not a sound I ordinarily hear at this site, and it was hard to ignore, so notwithstanding its unremitting presence in this recording I certainly don’t think of it as a keynote of the southern edge of Marston Quadrangle. On the other hand, there is usually work being done by heavy equipment somewhere on the Pomona College campus, so perhaps in a general way the hum is a keynote of the College. The second constant is the presence of bird songs and calls heard throughout the recording, mostly coming from trees and bushes. As a constant sound that recedes to the background of consciousness, the bird sounds are a keynote of this scene–unless one is thinking about the scene as a naturalistic garden dominated by trees (or a Shakespeare garden!), in which case the birdsongs become archetypes indicating and epitomizing the kind of place this is, a garden.
Two sounds join and then leave the soundscape: a car being driven down College Avenue (only one during the two minutes of this recording!), heard most prominently between 0:30 and 0:40, and a golf-cart-sized vehicle being driven on Fourth Street which passes close to the microphone between 1:30 and 1:40. At the time of this recording, Fourth Street was a street with asphalt and curbs; during the summer of 2013 it was made into a wide walkway–but College groundskeepers and other support staff still travel on it in their small vehicles whose intermittent whirr, like the hum of heavy equipment, is a keynote of College life.
One might expect, on a concrete path in a College’s central quadrangle, to hear sounds archetypal of College: the sounds of professors or students walking and talking, perhaps, or of frisbee being played. Such sounds are absent here. Marston Quadrangle is large and therefore almost never dense with people; and at 9:03 in the morning, those students who are awake are in class or working. Shortly before 9:00 a few people were walking here and there, but at 9:03 people were not part of the scene.
Location. Stairwell leading from first-floor lobby to basement of Thatcher Music Building, Pomona College, Claremont, CA.
Description of the space. It is an enclosed two-flight staircase. The walls, which include a wall separating the two flights of stairs, are of painted concrete. The steps and landing are covered in laminate tile and appear to be concrete underneath. The stairwell has doorways at top and bottom, usually open, for entry and exit. They were open during this recording. The ceiling is at an angle, so that the distance above any step is approximately approximately ?? feet. Total height of the stairwell from the bottom landing to the ceiling above the top landing is approximately ?? feet.
Recording setup. The microphone and the balloon were both placed near the floor of the landing between the two flights of stairs, about three feet apart.
30 dB decay: 1.8 sec
60 dB decay: 4.8 sec
decay to background level: 5.0 sec
minimum: 6.4 sec
(Using intensity graph function in Praat,)
Acoustic description. The resonance in this space prominently reinforces a pitch that I hear as 312 Hz. In the recording this pitch (E-flat 3, just above middle C) becomes audible as a hum less than a half-second after the pop, and it remains perhaps the most prominent feature of the sound for about two seconds.