mad in pursuit journal


Soundscape mmmmmmmmmmmm

Think about the sounds that sweep around us during the course of our day. Do we 21st centurions know what "quiet" is? I think we spend most of our time trying to escape the quiet, with our TVs and iPods and (when the world gets too noisy) our white sound machines. But try to find some real quiet and discover The Rumble.

I decided to record some "wild sound" for my sound library. Remember the John Travolta movie "Blow Out" (1981)? He had his microphone pointed into the woods to get some genuine night sounds instead of the usual packaged, pre-processed movie effects.

Frequency AnalysisBut my suburban world is full of road rumble -- cars -- their engines and their tires on pavement. Inside, it's the furnace blower and the slightly higher hum of refrigerator and computer devices.

Outside our door yesterday was a big crow cawing to his buddies down the road. I turned on my recorder. The graph above shows how the sound looks -- higher complex frequencies on the right is my crow; the smoother lines on the left amount to the background road rumble of suburban Penfield.

Why is it we find creeks and oceans soothing background noise, while people who live next to highways find no comfort in their particular sound blanket?

I wonder how far into the woods I'd need to go to stop hearing road rumble. I guess it's the auditory equivalent to wondering how far I'd need to go out to really see the stars.


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