Author Archives: Catherine Mosier-Mills

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Studio 47, 7 PM on a Monday night

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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.

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Reverb – Outside Rose Hills Entrance

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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.

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.