Category Archives: Spring 2020

Entries created by students who took Music 91 in Spring 2020.

Cloudy SoFlo afternoon

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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:
MacBook placed on dining table. Recorded on audacity.

About the recording:
This recording is a typical sound I hear every day as I do my work in the living room. The most significant sound is my dog running around on the floor. Half of the living room has wooden flooring and the other half has a rug; whenever my dog moves around and his nails hit the wooden floor, it makes the sharp clicking sound, whereas when he is on the rug, it makes a duller, blunt sound. The dog growls at 0:23 and his breathing can also be heard intermittently. The footsteps at 0:49 my dad walking down the stairs. The thud at 1:04 is the sound of my dad closing the shelf door. These sounds are what I hear every day and have integrated into my daily lifestyle. Although the sounds are not consistent and rather noisy, I do not find it distracting—probably because I have gotten used to it.



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.

SCIAC S&D Championship 2020

Location: Brenda Villa Aquatic Center, Commerce, CA

Recording setup: This sound was pulled from a video taken on an iPhone at the meet.

About the Soundscape: While this soundscape recording is very short, it is incredibly representative. First, this set of sounds in very archetypal for this location, as it is mainly used as a competition pool and the PP team only goes to this pool for this specific meet. Second, this is almost exactly the same set of sounds heard before/during every single race that occurs during this meet. Every race starts with the official, then the beep, and usually teams will cheer after the start of the race. This was taken during a high-stakes relay during finals, so there are a lot of people in close proximity of the recording. Brenda Villa is also the only indoor pool that PP competes in throughout the season, and thus the soundscape is vastly different from that which is heard at most meets during the season since the acoustics are drastically different.

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.

PP vs CMS swim and dive 12/7/19


Location: Haldeman Pool (Pomona College, Claremont, CA)

Recording setup: audio taken from iPhone video

About the Soundscape: This soundscape was pulled off of a video taken from the stands at Pomona’s Haldeman Pool during a swim and dive meet in November, 2019. From where the person was sitting, you can hear the swimming portion of the meet happening on one side of the pool, and the diving happening on the other side. Since there were races going on, you can hear various names being yelled throughout, and can hear a sort of constant cheering through the whole clip. Most of these sounds would not be heard when walking past Haldeman on a normal day, but it is fairly typical of a Saturday when the team has meets. It is interesting to consider which sounds are heard day to day. For the athletes, the physical actions that they are doing are the same as in daily practice, so the actual sounds of the actions (like the diving board bouncing up and down, or the diver hitting the water) are frequently heard. The other sounds, like much of the cheering and spectators, are not present in everyday practice (at least, to the same extent). I spend much of my time at the pool diving, so this is a particularly significant location for me though the perspective of the spectator is not one I often have.

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

Bridges Auditorium – Different Reverb Perspectives

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On Monday, March 9th, 2020, Professor Cramer and I went to Bridges Hall of Music to record balloon pop sounds in order to measure how reverberant the space is. In order to formulate a clearer picture of the soundscape, we did the recordings in three separate locations: at the center of the stage, at the back of the hall, and upstairs on the balcony above stage Left. In doing so, we can compare the amount of reverb in each space. The results are as follow:

  1. Center stage

At the center stage, the reverb is actually the shortest in duration out of all three locations. It lasts for about 1.7 seconds before starting to fade away. This is most likely because there are the walls are far away from the center of the stage; however, the impulse response did not bounce off the ground as much either. This might provide an explanation to why performers on stage are not able to hear each other with great clarity.

2.  Balcony above stage left

The reverb on this location is significantly longer than that of center stage; this impulse responses lasts about 2.5 seconds. This is potentially because we are closer to the wall and other wall-like surfaces, allowing the impulse response to bounce off of them. We hung the balloon out from the balcony and pop it while it’s hovering over the stage. This is why the microphone also picks up the sound of the deflated balloon pieces as they hit the stage, which is an undesired effect.

3. Back of the hall

This location, just like the one above stage left, models the auditory perspective of the audience. In this case, the reverb is also about 2.5 seconds. The reason for the longer reverb time from this location is that we were very close to the back wall, and the impulse response was able to bounce off that wall to become more reverberant. This might explain why audiences are able to hear the performers very clearly from this location, even though performers might not be able to hear themselves very well on stage. This in a unique and interesting property of Bridges Hall of Music.

4. Convolution Reverb

Now that I have analyzed the unique reverberant qualities of each of these locations in Bridges, I wanted to test how differently each reverberation affect music and sound production. I discovered technique called convolution reverb, which allows you to impose an impulse response – a recording of an acoustic space to an excitation of a signal, such as balloon pop – over sound recorded in a non-reverberant space to make it seems as if that sound was recorded in the space. An impulse response is stored in a digital signal processing system, and then convolved with another audio signal to create an entirely new audio file. Convolution is a mathematic process with the equation and graphical illustration below:



In order to create my convolution reverb audios, I used an application called Adobe Auditions, which has the convolution reverb feature built into its “effects” feature. The audio that I use to convolve with the impulse responses recorded in Bridges is of me singing the Gregorian chant “Ubi Caritas” in a very dry space with virtually no reverb (my room). I wanted to use a Gregorian chant to recreate the “solemn” feeling of Bridges. This is the original recording of me singing the chant:

Then, I imposed the three different impulse responses onto this audio using Adobe Auditions to create three separate recordings of me singing with reverb in the background. The results are as follow:

  • Using the reverb recorded from center stage
  • Using the reverb recorded from the back of the hall
  • Using the reverb recorded from above stage Left

Upon comparing these three reverbs, I’ve noticed that they line up with the Praat graphs shown earlier. The recording from center stage sounds to me to be more muffled and less audible than the one recorded from the back of the hall. The recording from the back of the hall has the most audible reverb and is also the loudest. What’s interesting, however, is that the recording from above stage L is actually the most muffled and lowest in volume. However, the duration of the reverb at the end of phrases is noticeably longer than in the other two recordings. Note that these recordings are not artificially altered in any way.

This experiment is very interesting, because it models what it would be like to generate sound from each of these reverberant locations, even more so because these are all locations within one concert hall. There are noticeable differences between the reverberated audios in each location; each location in a concert hall is acoustically unique.

Just for fun, I also used an impulse response recorded by a few Youtube vloggers and sound engineers at supposedly the most reverberant space in the world – Inchindown oil tanks in Ross-shire, Scotland  The result is as follow:

Pendleton Pool 2/29/20 12:30



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Location: Pendleton Pool 2/29/20 12:30 am

Recording setup: The TASCAM recorder was placed on the lifeguards’ table on the east side of the pool near the entrance. The TASCAM recorder was pointed towards the pool.

About the Soundscape:
This recording was taken at Pendleton pool during free swim hours on Saturday. About five lap-swimmers were in the pool at the time of the recording. These lap swimmers created the splashing noises that can be heard throughout the recording There was also a softball game going on at the softball diamond next to the pool. Faint music and cheering can be heard coming from this game. Occasionally, the splashing from the pool gets louder as the swimmer in the lane closest to the recorder moves to do a flip-turn on the wall. Two of the lap swimmers on the far side of the pool can be heard talking. Their voices sound more echoed compared to the voices from the softball game. This is because Pendleton pool is surrounded by concrete walls. The keynote and also the archetypal sound of this recording is the splashing coming from the lap swimmers in the pool. The cheering and music from the softball game is a signal that someone new is up to bat or that a successful play was made.

Haldeman Pool 2/29/20



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Location: Haldeman Pool 2/29/20 8:00 am

Recording setup: The TASCAM recorder was set up on the south end of the pool deck, near the entrance, pointing towards the pool.

About this soundscape:
This recording was taken at Haldeman pool before the varsity team’s morning swim practice. The swimmers arrived and took the pool covers off the pool. The pool is surrounded by concrete walls, so the noises inside the pool reverberate.The door to the locker room can be heard opening and closing multiple times throughout the recording. The swim coach can be heard talking to swimmers as they walk on deck. There is a rumbling sound coming from water rushing through the gutter of the pool. There are footsteps sliding across the deck as the swimmers move to take off the pool covers. Metallic clicking sounds come from the pool cover crank being dropped and kicked by one of the swimmers. The reel for the covers makes a loud metallic rumble as it rolls across the pool deck. Morning doves call out as this happens. The key sound is the rumble coming from the water rushing in the gutter of the pool. When no one is in the pool, this sound is especially audible. The archetypical sounds from this recording are of the pool reels being moved around because every swimmer knows these sounds well as they prepare to get into the pool. The voice of the coach greeting the swimmers acts as a signal because they are about to begin practice.

Outside a Smiley Window 3/2/20



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Location: Outside a Smiley Window 3/2/20 8:00 am

Recording setup: This recording was taken from a 3rd-floor window in Smiley dorm. The window was facing west toward the Smith Campus Center and the TASCAM recorder was on the window sill, pointed out the window.

About the Soundscape:
Very few people were wake at the time, but a group of three passed under the window. Their voices echo as they enter the hallway near the SCC since the space is reverberant. Cars can be heard throughout the recording as people commute on 6th street. The crows that often sit in the tree outside the window can also be heard calling at the beginning of the recording. Later in the recording, another voice can be heard as a student walked under the window talking on the phone. The keynote of this recording is the street sounds since they are constant throughout. There are bird sounds and rustling leaves throughout the recording that could also be considered keynotes. The archetypal sounds would be the students talking since the recording is from the window of a dorm room on a college campus.