Scripps Rose Garden, 8 P.M. on a Thursday night

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Location: Scripps College Rose Garden

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.