Author Archives: Ariane Gushue

Seal Court at Scripps College


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Location: Seal Court is a courtyard at Scripps College. Four single story buildings enclose the courtyard. The west wall is the  Malott dining hall,  the Motley Coffee House serves as the north wall, the student mail room is the south wall, and the east wall is a career student resource building. In the center of the court is a large water feature that includes two fountains in the form of seals facing each other. I would describe the sound of the fountain as the space’s keynote. Students often sit outside in Seal Court to enjoy their meals from Malott or their coffees from the Motley. This contributes to the wide variety of soundscapes the space can offer: At some times of the day, the court is serene, with only water falling into the pond sounding. At other times, for instance around noon on a sunny day, the courtyard is typically bustling with students and faculty.

The recording included here was taken at a time of quiet and calm, at 9:30 on a Tuesday morning. At this time, many students are heading to their 9:35 a.m. classes. In the soundscape included, a very careful listening will reveal the patter of feet shuffling across the brick ground of the courtyard, and the gentle fall of the water from the Seals’ mouths. Mostly, this soundscape speaks to the tranquility of the courtyard on a sunny Tuesday morning. Recording

Device: TASCAM DR-40 recording device Recording setup: The recorder was set on the brick ledge surrounding the central water feature.

Acoustic Space: The Oratory







Location: The Oratory in the Margaret Fowler Garden, Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Description of the space: The Oratory is located in the Scripps College Margaret Fowler Garden. It is a relatively small, circular place of worship, with a single stained glass feature. There is little furniture in the room to obscure the sound waves. There is a statue on the east wall and the door that opens to the garden is opposite, on the west end.

Recording setup: The balloon was popped in the center of the circular oratory. The TASCAM DR-40 recording device was held 3 feet away from the balloon.

Reverberation time: 3.38 seconds

Max intensity: 73.48 dB at 1.03 sec

30 dB drop: 1.71 seconds following max intensity

50 dB drop: 3.37 seconds following max intensity

Minimum intensity: 20.02 dB

Back to ambient: 20.24 dB 3.66 seconds following max intensity

Acoustic Description: The Oratory proved to be a very interesting acoustic space. As the sound decays, the reverberation sounds almost homophonic, with the archetypal reverberation sound accompanied by what sounds like a drone tone below it. This tone is the final sound to entirely diminish. This is likely due to the shape of the room and its small size. Whether there is intentionality in the acoustic design is of interest. As an Oratory, it is possible the space was designed with, at least, speech in mind, if not also vocal music.