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.


Sonic Cinematic: The Lost Alarm Clock

My project was based on making a soundscape designed to mimic the atmosphere of a nightmare or dream.

To achieve this end, which I envisioned involving large atmospheric sounds, I first recorded into Ableton a few MIDI clips that were then played by devices such as Collision. This device simulated a large drumhead with a loose membrance and a very slow decay. It ends up sounding like a drone with a howling noise on top that sounds much like the wind. I combined this with another instance of Collision to make a submix that consisted of this sound and a more industrial grinding sound. Finally, I used a string emulator, Tension, to make a bowed instrument sound that was automated to increase the force of the bow stroke slowly.

To create an environment that sounded like falling into a dream, I used sound clips of a classroom, walking, doors, patting a pillow and breathing to represent leaving a school or workplace followed by falling asleep immediately. As these sounds progress, the artificial and synthetic atmospheric sounds come in to represent the abstract nature of the dream. Slowly, the sound of an alarm clock comes in before those sounds, only to disappear before the last sequence. In the end, the piece closes with the snooze button on the alarm clock being hit while a person gasps and ruffles their sheets.

The Dining Hall Today

Artist Statement

The idea of my project was to record (hastily!) the sounds of the dining hall at lunch today and mix the audio from multiple recording sites into a cohesive recording of the atmosphere there. My intention was to capture the sounds of the dining hall on the same day as the presentation and replay them for the class.


Based on an arbitrary central point, located in front of the soups, I panned recorded tracks of the dining hall today relative to that position. The locations were chosen in a pretty random fashion for this iteration of the project. The left channel recordings come from the area immediately left of the entrance. Next in the stereo spectrum comes the southeast corner of the main hall, the northwest corner, the upstairs dining area, the stir fry station and the intimate dining area, which is panned to the right of the track. All the recordings are about 1:30 seconds long and the final master track is also about this length.

I’ve included a link to soundcloud so that members of the class can preview the piece. However, something occured during the exporting of the file from Ableton (the DAW I use), and it only contains recordings from the left channel. I will be bringing my laptop to class in order to playback the file in full stereo.

Obviously, this project is a little underdeveloped due to time constraints, but I did like that these time constraints forced me to record sounds on the same day as the presentation. That’s the principle reason for the title.