Exploring Spaces and Sounds Group 3: Comparing Sounds in Public Places

Comparing Sounds in Public Places
Group 3: Nastasia Vasconcells, Leena Rhodes, Justin Luna & Ryan Um

Theme: explore music and sound (or lack thereof) in public places

– Storyboard: Leena/All
– Equipment Gathering/Research: All
– Editing: Justin
– Recording: All
– Pictures/videos: All

Recordings/pictures/video jobs broken down:

Ryan – bookstore, restaurant
Nastasia – Starbucks/cafe, library, airport, metro
Leena – concert, guitar
Justin – Construction, nature


Nature vs. Construction
Airport vs. Train Station
Concert vs. sound of a guitar
Restaurant vs. Starbucks
Library vs. Barnes and Noble/bookstore

Group meetings:

“Electric Guitar vs. Acoustic in Country” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7m7e-e2LK4

“Can You Hear The Difference Between Expensive and Cheap Pianos?”

“Old vs. New Car Sound Comparison”


For our project, we decided to explore sounds in public places. We examined similar sounds and places to compare the similarities and differences between them. This allowed us to hear sonic connections or lack thereof between these locations.

To many people, nature can seem like just a lot of ambient noises in the back of your head. It is one of the sounds that gets muted out in daily life, since it’s not something that most people go out of there way to listen for. However, you take a few minutes out of your day and listen, (sound). You can begin to hear new noises that you never even knew were there the whole time, everything from the animal calls to the winds blowing against the leaves. Nothing overtakes anything else, and the sounds seem to equal each other out. (sound volume up cut to construction)
Construction work fits under the same category as nature in sound but with a different sound. It’s much louder and more in your face than nature is but tends to be muted out the same. The sound in construction is much more muddled and disorganized, as bigger machines take the priority sound-wise most of the time, Sometimes other sounds such as hammers or even people’s voices take the forefront, but only for a short period.

Airport & train/metro:
Thousands of people visit airports a day. Throughout the airport, the well-known voices help to tell people when their flights are leaving and some of the rules and regulations dealing with flights (“Airport talking”). Behind all of the hustle and bustle, many airports have music playing. Many do not even notice this as it is faint and they are focused on their travels (“Airport music”).
The DC metro is also a place thousands of people visit, but in comparison to the airport, the sounds are variably different. The sounds on the platform are people talking and the trains approaching and leaving (“Metro voice”). Once on the train people talking can also be heard, but the voices saying to be careful with the doors, and what stop is next, are the main sounds people pay attention to. These voices are similar to the voices one may hear in an airport (“Metro approaching platform 2”).

The strumming of a single acoustic guitar contains more sounds than one would expect. Overall, the ear focuses on the notes and chords being played on the instrument. (sound) However, if you listen closely, you can hear a variety of noises: the buzz from the steel strings, or the reverb in the room where the instrument is played. Additionally, the singularity of the guitar sounds allows the listener to hear aspects of background noise, such as sounds from the interior of a house. (sound)
A music concert, however, makes these sounds seem minuscule. At a rock concert, you hear the blaring of guitars, the thudding bass, the rhythmic beat of the drums (sound), all combined with the sounds of the crowd (sound of the crowd fades in). You hear the buzzing of amplifiers, the sounds of the musicians as they tune their instruments and speak to the crowd (sound).

Starbucks is a busy place that constantly has orders coming in and out. It is also a hangout spot for many students and workers. The sounds one would hear at Starbucks would be the names, drinks, and food called out when they are ready (“Starbucks orders”). There are also the sounds of machines beeping, and there is a subtle sound of cafe music playing in the background (“Starbucks making of drinks and music”).
The nation’s most populated Outback: Steakhouse happens to be right outside my house, so after a quick jaunt, I approached the door expecting to hear a cacophony of noise from all directions. Conversations seemed to never end and was constantly buzzing in my ears. The sounds of the clinking of utensils against clay plates and the waitstaff subdued the sounds of the televisions playing some sport near the bar area. It’s hard to focus on one sound because all of it seems like white noise.

The library is a place for studying and working. Students flood the library looking for books, researching, and typing. The 3rd and 4th floors of the A.O.K. Library at UMBC are quiet floors. That means you can talk but only in a whisper. Here I am walking around the library and you cannot hear anything other than my steps (“Walking in Library”). Other sounds that could be heard in a library would be typing and pages of books turning (“Computer”, “Book”, “Book 2”).
Barnes and Noble is a bookstore that has a coffee shop inside of it, so most of the noise came from the coffee shop making orders and yelling at the patrons to grab their coffee. The children’s section has occasional screams of kids waiting for their parents, but for the most part, it is quiet except for the soft song in the background.

By examining these sounds, we were able to draw connections between the everyday places we visited. Through listening carefully, we noticed specific similarities and differences between the sonic environments of these locations. Thus, when you take the time to really listen, one can discover unique sounds in any public place.