From a little apartment in Santa Monica, May 2020



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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.