Listening to the Dining Hall

My original project, submitting for the Listening Machine portion of the course attempted to capture the crowded acoustic atmosphere of the dining hall. With this project, I have used that original source audio again, but this time instead of bombarding the listener with atmosphere, I have tried to curate parts of that audio towards a paired-down composition.

To accomplish this task, I used two parts of the original source audio to capture both the rich acoustic environment in the dining hall as well as individual conversations that occur there. For this human element, I sampled whatever parts of the environmental recordings had recognizable words or phrases. I then played these samples back alongside the original recording. However, I did not leave the original recordings unprocessed for this version of project. Instead, I used spear to select only the parts of the low frequency partials, specifically the parts below 250 Hz that I found interesting. By doing this, I created space in the recording to reintroduce otherwise unnoticeable snippets of conversation.

This method formed the basis of a soundscape that represents an inversion of the dining hall’s acoustic signature: a dark and sparse place lacking the bustle of the dining hall. Because of this method, I hope the listener will begin to recognize not only busy sound of a packed hall, but also the individual sounds and frequencies that come together in the space to create its ultimately psychoacoustic effect.

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One thought on “Listening to the Dining Hall

  1. Hi Sam,

    I know you got a late start on this, and given the short amount of time you had, this really came together quite nicely.

    Just a few points:

    1) Introducing the bell sound from an external source seems like an odd choice, conceptually. Ideally replace it or remove the emphasis on the dining hall as the conceptual framework for the piece.

    2) The title doesn’t quite work for me–it doesn’t mesh well with the purpose you describe in your artist statement:

    “This method formed the basis of a soundscape that represents an inversion of the dining hall’s acoustic signature: a dark and sparse place lacking the bustle of the dining hall. Because of this method, I hope the listener will begin to recognize not only busy sound of a packed hall, but also the individual sounds and frequencies that come together in the space to create its ultimately psychoacoustic effect.”

    3) Also, regarding the statement above: I don’t particularly experience the busy sounds of a packed hall from your piece. Rather, I only get the inversion of the dining hall’s soundscape (not acoustic signature…that’s a separate topic). Though I know you have incorporated moments of voices from the hall, these are quite limited and are treated as discrete instances–the exact opposite of their normal presence in the space (inverted!). This is not a problem at all. It is actually a strength–embrace it!

    As a side note, your use of psychoacoustic is a bit confusing here–I don’t think it means what you think it means.

    4) The project feels like an introduction to a larger work–if you ever have the opportunity, I’d encourage you to expand the project!

    Nice work!
    Abby

    Like

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