Outside Lowry on a Friday Night


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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.