Category Archives: 2020 pandemic

Lake Poway Recreation Area

Image taken from recording spot.

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Recorded 4:50 PM (PDT) on May 16, 2020 on iPhone at Lake Poway Park.

Lake Poway Recreation Area is the closest park to where I live. The lake serves water supply to nearby resistants, while the park contains an archery range, a baseball park, picnic areas, fishing and boating areas, and hiking trails. Its a little crowded on a Saturday afternoon despite the coronavirus pandemic.

This recording captures the soundscape of a typical afternoon at Lake Poway park. The sound of birds and nature sounds form the background, with occasionally a bird or two breaking into the foreground. Sounds of people can be heard when they enter a closer proximity to the recording spot. Due to my unfamiliarity with bird calls, I can not identity the species of birds 1 and 2 labeled in my graph.

I completed missed the unknown sound in the graph when recording. In my mind I have associated it with wood hitting something and I had suspected it to be boats hitting the dock, but they seem to be too far away for that sound to be captured.

-Derek Jin
May 2020

Family Soundmark: Cooking and Chanting

Recorded around 5:43 PM (PDT) May 11, 2020 on iPhone in my kitchen.

This is a recording of the sound of cooking with my dad doing meditation chanting in the background. It is an interesting sound combination one would perhaps associate with the kitchen of a Buddhist temple, but it is a unique soundmark of my family observable daily around dinner time.

I classified this as a soundmark for several reasons: the first one being its uniqueness. I have yet to come across a similar soundscape anywhere else. It also serves as a representation of our family culture, where spiritual practices (the chanting is derived from Buddhist meditation chants using the vowels ah, oh and uh) are found mixed in with daily life. A third reason is the consistency. Since I went back home in March, I have found this soundmark to appear everyday around the same time consistantly. It also serves as a signal to alert family members that dinner will be served soon.

Cloudy SoFlo afternoon

This soundscape was recorded around 3:30 EST on Thursday, May 14th from inside a patio of a house in the suburbs of Lake Worth in Palm Beach County. It was recorded on an iPhone XR with the Voice Memos app.

Imagine standing outside on a patio overlooking a stream separating another line of houses. To me, this recording is like observing the sounds of nature from a “bubble” that is my house, where I have spent the majority of my time in since leaving campus. Ever since we had stay at home orders and less people are out, I’ve noticed that there are more sounds of nature when you go outside, now that less cars are on the roads and less people are present at a given time in general. The main soundmarks I observed in this snippet are two different kinds of bird chirps, the ambience of the water in the stream, as well as a faint barking of a neighbor’s dog in the vicinity. You can also hear the couple times I adjust my grip of my phone, altering the audio a tad bit. Based on the shifts in volume of each sound, I can guess whether the sounds from the animals are going closer to or farther away from me. Also the main volumes of each sounds were based relatively off of the ambient water noise, as some sounds are almost indiscernible without close attention to the sound, while other sounds notes are very apparent.

Rainy evening in Tokyo


Recording setup:
Recorded on iPhone recorder. I stood still and held my phone as I recorded.

About the recording:
This soundscape was recorded in the nearest “main street” from my house. It was a rainy evening, as the sound of cars running on the wet street and raindrops on my umbrella suggests.



Recording setup:
Recorded on MacBook audacity. I stood still and held the laptop.

About the recording:
The soundscape was recorded at 8 AM, on a street in front of my house. There are bird calls in the background; the most conspicuous, high pitched bird call is the bohemian waxwing. The black-faced bunting and the oriental turtle dove (common birds in Japan) can also be heard faintly in the background. It is easy to ignore these natural sounds, and this was the first time I have ever tried identifying these chirps. I was surprised by the variety of birds that lived around my neighborhood. This suggests that the bird calls may be considered a keynote in this area, as it is a normal part of our lifestyle. Other than the birds, the soundscape is rather quiet —probably affected by the pandemic. Other audible sounds are the wind and a distant car sound. There was not a significant presence of people based on the recording, but there was a person walking with a steel bucket in a far distance (the metallic sound at 0:15 is when he put the bucket down).



Morgan Park during Pandemic


Morgan Park sound diagram



The soundscape was recorded with a OnePlus 7 Pro smartphone sitting on a table in the park. The location was Morgan Park in Baldwin Park CA. Specifically I was sitting at a table right next to the flag poles that are in the center of the park. This park is central to the city of Baldwin Park as it is only down the street from city hall and also hosts its own community center. It is not a very large park but has a playground, basketball court, space to play other sports, and walk dogs. Prior to the outbreak of the pandemic the park was usually well occupied during the the weekends and evenings with teens playing basketball, kids playing on the playground, and people just hanging out. However, the soundscape is much different during the ongoing pandemic. While there are still a few people at the park sitting and walking dogs, the sounds of activity, voices, and any kind of play are missing. This lead to the quieter sounds of different birds chirping, cooing, and squawking to be heard in contrast with the sounds of cars going down the adjacent street and metro horn indicating its arrival and departure. At the end of the recording a dog begins to bark relatively close to the recording location dominating the last few seconds of the recording indicating there is still some activity in the park.

From a little apartment in Santa Monica, May 2020



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.

Rain in Durango, CO on 5/12/20

Location: North Valley in Durango, Colorado (Glacier Club)

Recording setup: Voice Memos app on iPhone; thin cloth around phone to block some wind

About the Soundscape: Durango, Colorado is currently under a red flag warning, meaning that fire danger in the area is high due to warm weather, dry conditions, and high wind. This audio was recorded off a balcony/deck overlooking the golf course. When it is sunny, there is usually the noise of golf carts and maintenance carts on the course, trucks and cars on the road, and sometimes the distant voices of people walking or golfing. Due to the rain, however, there were no other sounds and no one was out. The only significant events in this recording are the noises of water collecting and falling off the roof. There is one area that collects a bit of water, before it becomes heavy and drops to the ground below. On a normal day, there are also lots of birds and other animals crunching through the leaves and making noises around the house but in the rain, all was quiet.

Cranberry Bog at Night, 5-10-20


Carlisle, MA 01741, 9:45pm 5/10/20

42.552558, -71.367609

Recorded on a Zoom H5, trimmed and processed in

Device held in hand (hence some unfortunate buffeting—I’ll be purchasing a tripod for future recordings to avoid this)


On the border of my town Chelmsford, MA and Carlisle, MA, there’s an active cranberry bog. Each fall, there’s a wet harvest and the bogs are completely covered in cranberries—a moderately attractive tourist destination in the fall. The rest of the year, this conservation land is used for walking trails and wildlife observation. The full area is 310 acres with rich wildlife—beavers, muskrat, foxes, mink, various bird species, bass, and pickerel.

During the day, you can usually hear people walking and talking, dogs barking, and birds chirping. This recording was taken at night, so the soundscape is quite different. The archetypal sound is the spring peepers’ mating calls, an early sign of warming weather. There are occasional keynote sounds like the hooting of an owl, Canada geese, and what I think may be a red fox. Unfortunately, I’ve heard red foxes more and more the past couple years; their natural habitats are bring destroyed for new housing developments, so they’re moving closer to neighborhoods. There are also some man-made signals in this soundscape. The ticking of my car engine (cooling down after being turned off) is audible, as is a plane going by. There are also buffeting sounds of my fingers adjusting on the recording device. These take away from the soundscape’s immersion and are something I’ll be aware of for future recordings.

Backyard of House









Location: Backyard of house 05/09/2020 1:15 pm, Bodrum, Turkey 


Recording setup: An iPhone 8 was placed on the outside of a window frame, about 1.2 meters above the ground. 


About the soundscape: The recording was taken in the backyard of a house located near a moderately busy street. It was a rather open space, only surrounded by trees and neighboring two-story houses. Multiple cars passing by and some speech of the neighbors can be heard intermittently. These are the two most frequent sonic events, as can be seen from the spectrograph. The most prominent sound throughout is the chirping of the birds, which is the archetypal sound of this house in spring and the keynote of this recording. The soundscape also features the very complex sound of “ezan”, which is a call to prayer in Islam. Its cultural and historical significance makes it a soundmark. It is an archetypal sound of Turkey, heard in every city multiple times in a day. Moreover, it qualifies as a signal, as it signals both the time of the day and that it is time to observe the daily worship, to its listeners. One interesting sound heard at the very end is the rustling of the plastic grocery bags we hung outside for disinfecting them before we take them into the house, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Other than that, all the other sounds are present in lockdown times and non-lockdown times alike. There is a breaking of sound in the middle of the recording, likely due to a dysfunctioning in the microphone. There are also some sounds throughout which are difficult to identify, which might be people in the street moving around and carrying things.

Cresta Verde Golf Course

Location: Cresta Verde Golf Course, CA 92879 at 12:56pm on 05/08/20


About the Soundscape: Founded in 1927 by Randolph Scott, Cresta Verde Golf Course is located at 33°53’19″N, 117°32’32″W in Corona, CA and stands today as one of America’s 500 oldest courses.  The 18-hole course is brought to life by its various archetypal sounds, keynotes, and sound signals, including bird chirps, wind (which is particularly strong due to its elevation and vicinity to the freeway; it was captured and weakened with a small drawstring cloth bag over the microphone), wind chimes, driving golf carts, golfer chitchat, and the obvious hitting of a golf ball.  For this particular project, these sounds were all documented at hole #1 nearby the driving range at 12:56pm.  Unique to Cresta Verde, however, are its soundmarks found just outside of the clubhouse, which include the chatter of general manager Mehee and the white noise of the freeway due to its key and convenient location.  One may easily spot the iconic course from the intersection of the 15 and 91 freeways!

Cresta Verde Golf Course Soundscape Diagram

Recording Setup: iPhone was held within this small cloth bag, pointing in the direction of the course and golfers

Chelmsford, MA at a swamp/bog area

I recorded this a little past midnight on my phone. I slowed down on the side of a road to take the recording, hence the faint clicks and whirring of the car motor. The strongest sound is the chorus of Spring peepers, little frogs whose “chirping” signals the beginning of Spring. Here in Massachusetts, they just started their mating calls this week.

-Ben Cote

Lincoln Park, Chicago, Illinois USA

9:22 AM

Sounds of city life in early spring from the fifth floor balcony of an apartment building in Lincoln Park, Chicago. In the early morning one can hear birdsong, cars and city busses, bicyclists, dogs and people in the park across the street, and the wind. There is less traffic in this soundbite due to the decreased driving during shelter-in-place, and there were more people out and about in the park enjoying the warm weather for this same reason.

-Olivia McGrath