Soundscape: the Motley Coffeehouse


Recording setup and recording device.
This soundscape was recorded using a TASCAM DR-40 SOUND RECORDER. This recording was taken in the Motley Coffeehouse on Wednesday, February 19th 2014 at 8:20pm. The recorder was attached to a tripod and was placed on the counter facing the espresso machine behind the bar. The microphones were opened such that the general area where baristas prepare drinks could be captured.

About the soundscape.
The Motley is located in Seal Court near Malott Commons on Scripps College campus. The building is small, and is divided into two sections: the seating area and the bar. Motley is typically crowded with students studying at tables, on couches, or sprawled out on the music stage.

Photo courtesy of the Motley website.

The bar is where the main entrance is located and where customers order food and drinks.

Photo courtesy of the Motley tumblr page.

The recording was specifically taken at the bar with the microphone pointing toward the espresso machine. This gives the listener an opportunity to experience the auditory perspective of a Motley barista. The recording captures the process of making a mocha. Sounds of a barista pulling espresso shots and mixing them with chocolate and steamed milk can be heard. Music, baristas talking, and a student placing an order can also be heard in the background. Sounds that could be described as archetypal for coffeehouses could be the background music and the sound of the various machines. A signal present in this recording would be the one customer placing an order. The softness of the girl’s voice indicates that the recording was taken at a time when the coffeeshop is not busy. Another signal is the lack of drinks being called out at regular intervals. From these signals, it is likely that the sounds were recorded during the evening hours since the motley is typically busy in early morning hours. A keynote of this recording would be the music and voices in the background because they are both constants throughout the recording where the listener does not need to actively pay attention. From the perspective of all baristas as a community, the sound of the coffee grinder and the running of water as espresso shots are pulled could be seen as soundmarks of a coffeehouse.