Sonic Portrait of a Space // 14th Street

The sixth project assigned in Time was the first step for a later final project. In this project, we were told to pick a space and record sounds to illustrate the area. As soon as I read this project description, I knew I wanted to pick a space that was outside. Everyday I eat breakfast in the University Center on the 2nd floor. I always end up sitting on a high stool facing 14th street so when I sat there the next morning, I immediately felt compelled to pick that specific two-way street as my designated space. I was already confident in the area I chose because I looked down upon it every morning and would walk that street multiple times a day.

I didn’t exactly know what I wanted my final compilation of audio to sound like so I concluded that the best thing for me to do first was to just collect some sounds. After checking out a Zoom H6 kit from the Equipment Center, I went to 14th street and 6th Ave to record the area. As I was recording and playing back some of the noises, I found myself telling a story in my head. I decided to run with that idea and record sounds that fit the story I was planning out. Recording the sounds that I specifically wanted was a true test to my patience and time. I had to be persistent in waiting and getting the precise audio I wished for the space. Near the end of the day, I ended up going on a search for the distinct sounds I needed in order to create the final audio I wanted.

Like I had previously mentioned, I wanted the final to sound like a story. I had a character in mind and I wanted the audio to sound like he or she was waiting at a street corner with cars and trucks racing by. At the beginning of the audio, you have a sense of eerie calmness. There is wind blowing and small talk being incorporated. As the audio goes along, the sounds become more layered and clustered to give an illusion of movement. Nearing the end, the sounds just turn into a rush of noise with horns honking and people talking. The abrupt ending to all the noise was a style choice I utilized to show that something within the story had happened. After a couple seconds of stillness, there is a distant siren noise which I incorporated to hopefully push the listener to believe that something unfortunate has happened to the character.

Overall, I think the final turned out to be a success. I feel as though I captured the street space well and put my own twist to it by adding in the idea of a main character. Using Audition to compile all of the recorded audio was not a very complicated task because the demonstrations shown in class and on the Lynda website were extremely clear. The only difficulty I faced with this project was collecting the sounds I needed to devise a final that felt full. In the end, I put together a final audio piece that I was confident with and knew I would love to add a visual component to.


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