Author Archives: Tori Davis

Acoustic Space: Scripps–Kimberly basement


Description of the space.
The acoustic space chosen was the basement of Kimberly—one of the dorms on Scripps campus. To get to the basement, one must go down a set of narrow concrete stairs. There is a laundry room directly in front of the staircase and the basement continues onward as a long hallway with various locked rooms for storage. The end of the basement hallway—furthest from the laundry room—was chosen as the location for the balloon pop.

Recording setup and recording device.
An 18” balloon was popped and recorded using a TASCAM DR-40 SOUND RECORDER. The recorder was held about one foot away from the balloon during recording. The microphone was pointed directly at the balloon where the puncture was made. This recording was made on Wednesday, February 19th 2014 at 8:00pm.

Reverberation time.

Maximum Intensity: 91.18 dB
Minimum Intensity: 26.52 dB
30dB drop after 1.07 s
50dB drop after 1.81 s
Reached minimum intensity after 0.43 s
Reached maximum intensity after 0.60 s
Returned to pre-pop intensity level after 3.33 s

Acoustic description.
Using Audacity, the balloon pop recording was cut when the waveform diagram appeared to return to pre-popping conditions. The Audacity waveform diagram of this recording is identical to the one generated using Praat.

Graph of sound waveform generated using Praat.

However, the Visible Intensity Contour plot demonstrates that the reverberations had not quite ceased yet.

Visible Intensity Contour plot was generated using Praat.

This is evident from the spectrogram as well.

Spectrogram generated using the Audacity.

The shading before and after the pop are not quite the same shade—meaning the recording was cut a bit short. Despite the premature cut off, the long-lasting reverb tells us that the acoustic space is likely to be narrow and made of material that readily reflects sound (rather than absorbs the sound).

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.