Aural Postcard: Car ambience

I believe I made this picture and reading while I was driving after the olympic hockey gold medal game. I wanted to capture the internal soundscape of the car as well as the sounds and noises from the outside, the honking of passing cars, the idling engine sounds, the way the music inside the car filled my environment and transformed it in a schizophonic way into a musical experience. The car in a way is a great transitional space, merging the inside and outside into one strange, blended soundscape. A note on the high decibel readings you see in the picture – once again I am using the application “dB” which is an unweighted sound level meter (thus, readings often come up +10-20 dB) however, in this case, the readings may not be too far off, as the car is a low frequency, infrasonic environment, thus even if it doesn’t seem too loud, the sound pressure coming from the engine is significant. Also, since the space is confined, any electroacoustic sources introduced here (music, radio) resonate and amplify in its chamber.

This first sound file is a “quieter” car ambience with all the windows closed and just music inside, at a time of day (morning) that roads are not too busy yet, and so there isn’t too much roaring coming in. The dB readings mainly reference the subsonic and infrasonic levels in the car itself.

This file on the other hand was the recording that goes with the above explanation – taken on the day of the hockey win, with lots of cars passing while I was stopped at a red light in the beginning – lovely subtle Doppler effects there, followed by intermittent honking form passing cars, mixed in with the dry, flat artificial sound of my own horn, that I used to respond to and join in the celebration.

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