Author Archives: Kelly Lee

Case Courtyard Feb. 4, 2014



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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.

The Cafe, Mudd, 2:35pm on Monday


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?”).

The Cafe, Mudd, 1:05pm on Monday


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.