At various times during the semester, you will be asked to post responses to course readings/viewings/listenings on this page. Your posts should be between 150-200 words.


34 thoughts on “Responses

  1. I found Monday’s readings about gender and voice very interesting. If a person’s voice doesn’t match the stereotype for their gender then they may feel uncomfortable about their voice. The voice we hear in our heads is very different from the voice that others hear. It is difficult to hear yourself recorded but sometimes that is best way to understand how others hear you. Liana M. Silva post “As Loud as I want to be” pointed out the way that people look at loud female talkers. If men talk loud they it is not frowned upon but if women talk loud it is considered aggressive. I am the other way and a soft talker. People also perceive me as meek but I just grew up with parents who expected me to talk quietly. Our voices are a product of our environment and do not always match our personalities. We need to listen to what people say closely in order to find out their true personality. The deaf musician Glenni said “How do we know what we hear? We could be hearing two different things.”


  2. Silva’s first sentence in As Loud as I Want to Be are “I was 22 years old when someone called me deaf.” Being female, according to Silva, means we’re “Damned if we speak, damned if we don’t.” Then we add in race, loudness factor, and female respectability, different cultures, and double standards and society comes up with an idea of what a woman should be. If we’re too feminine people don’t take us seriously, and if we’re too masculine people don’t take us seriously. Her conclusion: “But I learned how to respond to the remarks. I learned to be sarcastic. I learned to make jokes. I learned to talk back. I didn’t find my voice; I embraced my voice.” Her point was that we shouldn’t apologize for who we are whether male or female. I found Silva’s work to be interesting, because she’s female and from a minority group who talks about how women shouldn’t apologize for anything and to fight back with their words. 165 words


  3. After reading On Whiteness and Sound Studies, I was kind of taken aback by the poignancy of the idea that sound studies is a field dominated by whiteness. I suppose many fields are steeped in privilege these days, but on some surface level it seemed to me that there was an interest in sounds of people of color. When I thought about this more though, as the author alluded to, it seems to all revolve around music. Sound studies detached from music just isn’t something I’ve heard of, and it seems like such an interesting and important topic – sounds studies of communities of color could tell us so much about the world we live in. The reason I’ve never thought of this is of course clear to me, I’m white and have such haven’t really had to reconsider that to me, police sirens may sound different than they do to a person of color. We sometimes consider sounds to have a universal meaning, but there are clearly nuances in interpretation based on a plethora of factors, race being one that seems woefully under discussed.


  4. The readings, which have a particular focus on the sounds voices create, have made me focus on the medium rather than the message. It is not specifically what is said, but who is saying it and the sounds which are created and heard in the process. The example about the female airline pilot over the loud speaker puts the voice, moreover the female voice, into the ears and minds of passengers. The male voice of a pilot which is usually heard is dismissed and often ignored because it is the norm of flying, but when passengers are “thrown off guard” when they hear a female voice instead of a male’s. This example changes the soundscape for the passengers, which can alter their thoughts about the pilot or flight in general. Much like the female pilot’s voice, the transgendered male voice changes what is typically thought of when looking at a male. We associate a male body with a male voice, but it is not until the voice is heard that we begin to think about and analyze the person. By all accounts, the author, Art Blake is a man and appears as so, but since his voice has more feminine qualities, his voice is what his students judge him by. Art is judged by his sound rather than his appearance.

    The sounds of the male voice have dominated the soundscapes in many areas of our society, but it is interesting how most recorded voices used for practical applications are female voices: Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s Siri, the female voice in airports, etc. For a society that values it’s “maleness” and the sounds of the “maleness” female voices and the sounds they create are very much an important and growing area of sound and soundscapes. Like the pilot example, we do not think about or analyze the male dominated sound and soundscapes until they are altered by and replaced by female voices and sounds.


  5. So, I was reading some of the blogs and not many of them connected to me personally. Then one blog hit me that I didn’t really expect. Finding My Voice While Listening to John Cage was that blog that connected to me. It was probably the least expected one since I don’t think I have a problem with masculinity, I haven’t had a sex change. However, there is an insecurity with the way I talk that has always damaged me. I stumble over words sometimes, my thoughts go faster than I can say them. Thinking before your speak, becomes clogged with too much thought. When I stumble, I feel like it takes away from my masculinity. I am no longer in charge of the conversation. That is where I connected most with the blog. When I am focused and ready, nobody can stop me. That is when I feel most comfertable.

    I went ahead and watched a bunch of his videos. I’ll be honest in saying that his voice can throw you off a bit until you get used to it. He looks more manly than he sounds. It is pretty interesting how much we put into the masculinity of someones voice. I also wonder how much that comes from how we are told to talk and sound, or how our genes make that up.


  6. Sound, noise, listening and voice are all put together to make a seemingly simple concept. The need for sound in language is so obvious that it is forgotten. However with out sound we wouldn’t be able to tell what part of the country a person might be from or even what part of the world. Pauline Oliveros’ background indeed make for a interesting read but so far hasn’t gotten me to understand just what theory in sound composition is. I guess that’s why it is theory and not exposition. As silly as it might sound I think it would be hard for me to change Siri’s voice to a male’s voice. Not only have I gotten used to the voice being a female’s voice I am also used to it being and older woman’s voice. A movie like “HER” would be hard to imagine if it was a female human falling for a male-computer’s voice. Perhaps that’s just the male in me. Of all the short stories I have written I would, in general want them to be read aloud using a female’s voice. However I think that for my chronicles of Murphy stories I would definitely want and older Hispanic male’s voice. ¿Por Que No? Leana Silva talks about her loud talking and how others perceive it. I am having a harder time seeing just how to work in the issue of loud when it comes to sound. But I guess volume play a huge part in the study of sound. What do I know?


  7. Sound is an emotional medium. We’ve accepted that much. I have, at least, especially after reading through the Sounding Out! series assigned to us over the past week. We wrap up our sense of self in the way that we sound, and we consciously manipulate our vocal output as a means of readjusting inward and outward perceptions. That speaks to the very core of sound’s effect – a ringing of the bell in our gut. Admittedly, my resulting conclusion is a high degree of skepticism over the use of sound and aurality as an educational medium. By no means do I include in this suspicion sound studies as a whole. The value in interpreting and manipulating our personal soundscapes is beyond reproach, but the extension of that value into the larger academia realm, much as we’ve done with writing since, essentially, pencils were invented, has yet to find a proper argument. In fact, all this talk about the psychology and emotion of sound points me in the other direction – that promoting sound projects to supplant traditionally written projects, while experimental and naturally endearing, would, for the most part, only accomplish the obfuscation of fact and rigid rationality strived for in the realm of straight-forward learning. In other words, the written word, while imperfect and certainly subjective in its own right, eschews, rightfully so, the emotionality of sound and, particularly, voice. In this way I harbor a far lesser fear over the manipulations and charisma of an individual author when he or she writes, rather than speaks.


  8. It was interesting hearing about the two different perspectives on Voice and Body. From “Vocal Gender and the Gendered Soundscape”, Ehrick the author argues that “if the voice is not the body, what is it?” Author details it by saying if the source remains out of sight, meaning the body, it is still present via the sound it produces. This is in stark contrast from Erin Anderson’s “Toward a Resonant Material Vocality for Digital Composition.” Anderson who supports a shift from the question of who produced a voice to what the voices does. Steven Connor in article noted that people need to unsettle the assumptions of ownership and identity from voice, as it is “something that I do, not something I am a part of.”

    This allows us to move past the body and to see a more “fluid and permeable modes of being.” What does that mean? I have no idea. But listening to voice and and getting past the body would seem to move past the gender of voice. We would just hear the voice. We become more concerned about what is being said rather than who is saying it. In the pilot example, we would be like oh, “buckle your seat-belts” rather than thinking “wow, we have a woman flying this plane.” For the author, the women’s voice would be further as we focus more on what is being said rather than who or what is saying it. Separate the voice from the body and single it out. Be more concerned about what is said and not who is saying it, that perspective would erase the gender notion of voice.


  9. I found the topics raised in both “Echo and the Chorus of Female Machines” and “As Loud As I want To Be: Gender, Loudness, and Respectability Politics” to have distinct connections when it comes to a woman’s voice and how it’s perceived. What’s interesting to me is how so many people were amused by the concept behind the movie “Her.” I actually recently watched it and although I also laughed at how ridiculous it all seemed at first, I realize now that establishing that strong of a connection with a robot really isn’t that outlandish. Both readings discuss how female voices are thought to be less authoritative and intimidating. SIRI’s voice being female and somewhat soothing makes her easier to approach. The same could be said about Echo, which I actually didn’t know that much about prior to the reading. Since it’s soft-spoken, despite the fact that it’s a robot, people are more comfortable relying on it.

    Still, the loudness of a female’s voice has negative connotations. Women who are loud are often viewed as annoying and obnoxious. Even I have jumped to these conclusions on more than on occasion. In the presence of a woman with a loud high-pitched voice, I have automatically labeled them as incompetent and immature, even though in situations where I’m surrounded by friends or family, I tend to be loud myself. However, we rarely hear anyone comment on a man’s loud voice, and usually their voice is immediately judged when it’s higher-pitched. The key to understand that what’s more important is the content rather than the voice.


  10. The “Echo and the Chorus of Female Machines” article really stayed with me the most throughout all the readings, because of both the point it raises and the inherent “now” that it exists in. Vocal gender and the connotations created by it is something I’ve never really stopped to think about, however these readings really managed to highlight how they play a role in our society today. Almost every digitalized voice I can think of, from my phone gps to the digitalized assistants that everyone has, like siri and cortana use female voices, and the only time in recent memory that I can think of hearing a digital male voice was when I was using my bank’s automated phone service. The connotations of a male voice giving you instruction and direction, while a female voice taking your requests and commands is not lost on me.


  11. “On Whiteness and Sound Studies” resonated with me far more than I thought it would. Taking into consideration the ideas that exist behind sound as we did a couple weeks ago, peeling back the layers to see what they mean to different people shows how diverse a single sound’s meaning can be. The Kerschbaum readings on multimodal listening felt somewhat connected here, as both speak to the understanding that there is always someone getting something different out of the sounds that surround them. Both areas, I believe, are glossed over by the majority of people because they are not seen as being important. What I mean by that is, if the sound makes sense to you, like the example of a police siren from “On Whiteness and Sound Studies” then it should make sense to everyone else. How could that man be scared or angered by a sound meant to show people help is on the way? Why is that woman over there ignoring the siren? Does she not care about the officers going to help others?

    There is a very intrinsic view of sound for me, one that I think many people share. Sound is a very personal experience for me; it literally creates my world. Sometimes it is difficult to allow other ideas to affect that experience, but these articles have certainly made me more aware of myself and others in a sonic way.


  12. Cynthia Selfe’s “The Movement of Air, The Breath of Meaning” hit me in a strange way because it was arguing for a position to renovate the way teachers taught in class. While she vetted for going beyond text, what struck me about her position was that she also acknowledged that people learned in different ways. When I was growing up I was hammered with the assumption that people only learned one way, and that if I couldn’t learn that specific way then I was, in some way, an idiot or broken.

    But now today I look at myself and what I do in my normal routines around the Internet. I enjoy background noise so when I’m reading, writing, or playing video games it helps me to have a browser tab open with a video or a song playing. Selfe’s reading anchored my belief that people can learn differently, or sometimes MUST learn differently in order to summon focus during classes. If teacher’s are so adamant that everyone can ONLY learn through reading and writing, then it seems reasonable to assume the rest of the senses will simply go to waste.

    I do think it would be interesting to learn through audio because it doesn’t seem like many have attempted to experiment with the idea of learning differently as a prominent force. There are issues with learning through audio however, such as pacing. With documents being readily available on digital outlets like PCs or smart phones it’s really easy to hunt passages or words down with the search feature. Audio logs, lectures, or even podcasts will probably require some way to allow students or listeners to easily find points of interest, like a script to look through. Maybe a table of contents at the beginning of the sound file would help, but otherwise the audio file would require a little bit of text to help with people finding their way around.

    – Chakrit Dechsi


  13. Listen to this as you read:

    I write this blog post while I’m doing my laundry. As I listen to the washer and dryer, I can’t help but think about how their sounds came about.

    In the article, “Sonic Imaginations,” the author, Jonathan Sterne, prompts the reader to listen to their surroundings and think, “How many of the sounds in everyday life existed ten years ago? Twenty? Thirty? Fifty? That’s just the sounds—but what of the contexts in which they happen, the ways of hearing or not-hearing attached to them, the practices, people and institutions associated with them?”

    The washer rapidly fills with water, circulates through the machine and the clothes, drains, fills back up, soaks, drains, and spins. This process of washing clothes has been refined over time, therefore the respective sounds have also evolved. The predecessors to machines would have had a much more organic sound, as opposed to the current automated and rhythmic sounds. I think about the future for these sounds, especially considering the advancement of technology making products like washers quieter. My question now is how long before the sounds I’m hearing now are obsolete?

    As Sterne said, “We live in a world whose sonic texture is constantly transforming.”


  14. In LaBelle’s “Acoustic Territories”, he talks about sound and silence in the home. LaBelle points out that “home as a space comes to signify the possibility of peace and quiet”. When we go home, we expect to find peace and quiet as LaBelle points out. When I go home from school, I can hear the HVAC running in the back, the door opening and closing, water running through the pipes in the bathroom and sinks, the stove being turned on and off which prevents the house from being silent, people speaking, and laptops playing dramas and TV shows. The house is full of sound.

    According to Sennett, who LaBelle references, Sennett finds “productive value in disorder-rather than seek commonality in the form of sameness.”

    I grew up in a wealthier suburb, where I heard different languages being spoken and housing was different for each family. However, at school I see people living in townhouses where layouts are the same and the majority of people only speak English. I lived in an area where there was disorder-multiple languages being spoken and different types of housing- and almost no disorder-only English is being spoken and the same types of housing- for the neighborhood. The only disorder to this neighborhood is the sound of children yelling and playing during summer and fall, before it gets too cold and dark.

    LaBelle writes that “the suburb attempts to harmonize by creating stable frames, countering the verve and unsteady dynamic of which social life consists.” Although where the neighborhood I grew up is home to a older demographic, there are young families there as well. It creates a stable environment for children to grow up in while providing other adults for parents to talk to. Neighborhoods need to have a steady dynamic that will appeal to all demographics in order to thrive.


  15. LaBelle talks about urban and suburban areas as differing acoustic territories. When it comes to one’s home, he says that,
    “The home literalizes the physical and emotional needs of individual or family life, extending the wants and needs of an interior self to domestic space ─ home is where the heart is needs to be taken quite literally. Yet the home is also where the ear is, and where the tensions between comfort and disruption are put in the balance” (52).

    Although I turn to my home as a place of solitude after busy day, there’s never really a moment of absolute quietness. Sometimes I define a quiet environment in my home as a space where there’s no music playing and the television is off, but even then, it’s not completely quiet. There is a multitude of sounds going on around me, whether I realize it or not. LaBelle talks about how different sounds can be depending on the location.

    Referencing Karin Bijsterveld from Mechanical Sound, LaBelle discusses how with the introduction of modern appliances, such as vacuum cleaners, domestic spaces brought neighbors into unexpected contact. This made me think about the neighborhood I grew up in, which I would categorize as an upper-middle class neighborhood home to well-established families. Growing up, the sounds of lawn mowing, birds chirping, and children playing surrounded me, but other than that, I wasn’t really affected by the noises my neighbors made inside their homes.

    I now live in an apartment and have grown more accustomed to the sounds of buses at the bus top right outside of my window, and children yelling, considering there’s an elementary school right across the street. The population is more diverse, with a mix of young college students and small families, some who barely speak any English. I often hear sounds from children playing in the hallway to college kids blaring their music. I also have grown more accustomed to the sounds of sirens in the middle of night and my neighbor’s vacuum cleaners, heavy footsteps, and showers above me. With this, I’ve been introduced to a combination of complex sounds that I never really experienced to such a degree before.


  16. LaBelle in his chapter titled “Home” talks about the sounds that surround us on a daily basis and how the sounds at home are different than the ones in public places. He begins talking about noises, “an entire set of meanings that put noise on the side of disturbance,” when he is on the train talking in a silent section. He described how the sounds at home are ones that should stay within the home and once they pass into public places they become disturbance. Everyone’s home has different sounds which are comforting to the people that live within the home. When no one is home at my house, for example, the silence is a welcome change for a while but eventually the house is too silent and needs the sounds of voices, television and music to make it comfortable again. Noises in our houses are according to LaBelle “psychological and emotional” and these sounds fill our needs as long with the physical need for shelter. He said, “In the weave of self and sound the home might be said to function as an elaborated ‘sonorous envelope’ keeping safe, or functioning to replicate, an imaginary or primal aural warmth.” Familiar sounds make us feel safe and comfortable in our homes. When the neighbors’ sounds can be heard within our homes it is like an invasion of our privacy.


  17. Silence is an ideal, a perfection as a goal never rationally understood to be reachable. That’s physical, real-world silence. LaBelle seems to be honing in on the other kind of silence though – mental silence, the thing suburbanites are seeking out, in LaBelle’s understanding, as a means of separation and peace from an encumbering diversity of the world. If my summary on the matter seems reductionist, then LaBelle’s is twofold in twenty times the word count. Naturally, I grew up in a suburb, and I enjoyed my life there.

    But I was a kid. By now I’ve lived in dorms and apartments, sharing walls with perfect strangers like so many do. I can’t say, at any time boxed in like that, I was grateful for the “diversity” offered by drunk idiots, televisions blasting programming in another language or the occasional ruckus right outside my door. LaBelle offers an inventive argument against mental silence as an ideal – that in seeking out silence of this kind we also isolate ourselves from others – but I reject it. All I want, when a dump truck or a construction crew rattles me from my bed, is to be back in the isolation of a non-urban home, and I say non-urban because I would love nothing more than to live in complete seclusion. If, by the age of 50, the most anyone knew of me was as a mythical troll living deep in the forest, that would be okay. The issue with LaBelle’s construction is a reliance on generalizations and the positive associations of social diversification. Diversity is undoubtedly, unarguably, a good thing on a broad scale. The more types of people we know, the more types of people we freely accept, the likelier we are to accept anybody and everybody. So, now that I made sure nobody thinks I’m a racist, let me just say that I discriminate between sounds, and the city is audibly indiscriminate.

    I discriminate against jackhammers and I discriminate against buses. I only need to hear a bus when I want to ride a bus or I don’t want a bus to kill me. Other than that, I never want to hear a bus. Buses are loud and stupid. No data on the ails of suburbanization, the tortures of silence and the hoorays of diversity are ever going to make me want to hear a bus. In all the lofty examinations of sonic surroundings and designs in Labelle’s writing, I have yet to want to hear a bus so that I can be less prejudiced.

    I have allowed pragmatic desire to trump idealism and principle. I feel no shame. I’m just a mythical troll, after all.


  18. When I drink coffee or tea at home there’s always a specific mug I look out for. Sometimes it’s not available because it’s drying after being washed, but whenever it’s around it’s immediately the mug I go for to drink my coffee and tea from. It’s a bit thick and it’s the color of light beige with a handle that starts out rectangular at the top and slopes down at the bottom. It’s a mug I recognize and am used to holding, and because of the drawing etched onto the mug I’ve dubbed it the Engineering mug.

    The sounds of my house are kind of like the mug. I have varying degrees of expectations, recognition, or even comforts when it comes to the sounds going through my house. I live with my parents, brother, and a cousin so there’s naturally going to be various sounds happening at any time. Sometimes at night someone goes into the kitchen to fetch a midnight snack, and I don’t have to worry who it is because the sounds they make are ones I recognize. I won’t lose any sleep, and sometimes they actually help comfort me into sleep.

    Reading LaBelle’s article enlightened me about the authority of certain sounds and comforts. When I come home I can expect certain sounds to go through the house, or expect sounds when other people are home. However, despite disliking them, I also can expect certain sounds to be happening outside, such as lawn mowing machinery or a party. Whether I like it or not, there are places where sounds are completely normal or a person should expect a certain volume of sounds to be normal. If a person was walking by a busy construction site he or she would expect loud noise.

    Going back to the audible comforts of my house, there is also the comfort in knowing about persmissible sounds that I make specifically in my room or happen within my room. I have a mechanical keyboard and it’s loud, so whenever I type I can hear the thumps of each key. Hearing the hum of my computer also brings me comfort, and if it’s off the entire room glows with a completely different presence, and while I’m used to it I feel more comfortable with the computer on. This room of mine is never without sound, whether it’s the keyboard, the computer, or videos and music I listen to through the headphones or speakers. In this room I have permission to make a variety of sounds up to a certain volume. This is the acoustic territory I’m familiar with that I expect to welcome me when I come home.

    – Chakrit/Champ


  19. What struck me most about LaBelle’s reading is the idea that sound and place are tied together, and that’s a huge part of what “home” is. When I think about my home, I think about sound immediately and what kind of sounds are involved.

    It’s interesting how this changes over time though. As a kid, I think it was almost impossible for me to find silence – I lived with 3 older siblings, 2 parents, and multiple pets. Everything was loud all the time. Home wasn’t really thought of a place to go escape sound and enter silence, in fact I experienced much more silence in high school classrooms than I did at my home. Now that I’m older and rent a house, it’s much easier to achieve silence. Things are infinitely more calmer at my home than at school.

    It’s also interesting to note the difference between home sounds and community sounds. When I was growing up, I lived in a pretty close-knit community where I knew most people and was very comfortable with the sounds. For a year I lived in a kind of crappy neighborhood, and those sounds were something so alien to me that it was hard to adjust to. There were people constantly arguing in the streets, neighbors blasting loud music, and police sirens were all too common. This was a jarring change from my childhood comforting sounds of kids playing outside and crickets.


  20. I thought LaBelle conveying the idea of home being tied to sound really interesting. I often walk into my apartment and am greeted with a faint hum of the refrigerator, usually that being enough to put me at ease. That sense of the familiar, conveyed in sounds I think contributes to that idea of a personal soundscape that Professor Ceraso was talking about earlier in the semester, where the same sound can hold very different meanings for different people because of their experiences.

    I also really enjoyed LaBelle’s discussion of what makes a home and the discussion of the private sphere versus the public sphere in terms of just physciality. I thikn that sound helps with that as well. Because you live in that home, the sounds of it are familiar to you but foreign to others. When I was growing up, I had a friend who had a security system on her front door that chirped every time it opened or closed. Whenever I would come over to her house, the chirp would always startle me, but I imagine that it put her and her family at ease, since it was something they were familiar with.


  21. While reading through LaBelle’s Acoustic Territories, the section dealing with sound and a sense of home and suburbia really intrigued me. It made me realize that we as a society seem obsessed and preoccupied with our own personal soundscapes. It struck me that in Valencia, the police would get 20 to 45 per weekend about noise complaints. I think about all the times we complain about other people’s noise. It’s frustrating when your sitting and watching television and someone starts vacuuming in the other room. You get annoyed that this sound has intruded your own personal soundscape. I know I like playing music a little loud sometimes, but when the guy next door starts blaring his tunes, I get annoyed.

    Quoted in the article is Richard Sennett who says the home has replaced the church as our sanctuary, a place for refuge, clarity and moral conscience. So when outside sound infiltrates our territory/home, it is frustrating and annoying. In these moments, we are trying to be with ourselves, rewind and relax, and enjoy. But when intruding sounds penetrate our soundscape, we get annoyed. I think that plays a part in our increased use of headphones because we want to create our own “home” all the time. Our sound, our home with us 24/7. Headphones block out all the neighbor noises we hear on the streets and puts us in a relaxed state with our own minds.


  22. What struck me most about LaBelle were the comments on the trend of segregation using sound its launch platform. By using laws and regulations to determine the sorts of behavior allowed in neighborhoods and towns, those in power can determine who is and who is not permitted to live in a specific area.
    Officials can curtail the population based on lifestyle; vacuum too much? Play loud music out of your car? Like to watch movies at night? That means you can’t live in specific towns.
    I love cities, because I love the texture of the soundscape they provide. When the suburbs intentionally segregate their soundscapes, it leads to less interaction between different types of people and reflects not just on the soundscape, but on human experience.
    Affluent suburbs have ruled our nation for a while, and I’m glad to see some critique of the segregation involved; it would be interesting to see theory on concepts like line of sight applied to housing segregation as well.


  23. The reading made me think a lot about sound and how we make sense of it as part of our surroundings. I thought about how space gives context to our lives, thus space gives context to sonic cultures.

    Different sounds on there own may be appropriate, but that can change based on where the sound is being used. Place also provides context for what is appropriate and normal in terms of tone, pitch, or volume.

    An example that comes to mind is the UMBC library. The different floors of the library have correlating sound levels that are “allowed” and they get quieter the higher you go. This brings me to another point that I find interesting, the enforcement of rules regarding sound.

    In the library, sound is rather self enforced. As adults we are expected to govern our own behavior, but we have librarians as a back up. If someone gets too noisy, surrounding students are encouraged to say something to them, or report it to the circulation desk, who will proceed to send a representative up to tell them to stay silent. While noise levels are being enforced, there is no specific scale as to what is appropriate and allowed. This significantly differs from actual laws about noise.

    Laws, which are more serious than rules, have to be carefully enforced, therwfore there must be a clear method of determining whether or not the law was broken. For sonic laws, decibels are used to regulate sound volume. In these instances, sound which is inherently abstract, is given a concrete value.


  24. Labelle’s opinion of the “Home” and the sounds that crate a home had a serious effect on me. The idea that home comes to mean comfortable silence, or at least sounds that are enjoyable to a specific individual is powerful and I think very true. Home is still a changeable idea. One can always go home, but that home doesn’t have to be a structure. It is instead a place where one can relax and be surrounded by sounds or the lack of sounds that they enjoy.

    I found this to be true in my own home and rooms in my home. I live in a secluded area with few other neighbors and large areas of wild growth of bushes and trees separating us. I enjoy the small sounds and general silence that surround my home. Yet that silence grates on me in the cul-de-sac on the other side of the woods. Even though that area is designed to reduce noise, I find that particular silence difficult to be around.

    This extends into my home as well. Each room in my home has a standard pattern of noise that involves electronics, pet noises, conversation between people and other sounds. Without those sounds, or when those sounds move to a different room, the continuity is broken and the sound becomes invasive. I think that concept is very interesting in regards to the legislation against noise, as every sound was taken and measured against each other. That legislation comes to shape and fuel both the public and private soundscapes, in a way many people don’t realize.


  25. When reading about GE’s new emphasis on sounds in regards to appliances, it noted that “the real challenge was determining the personality for each of GE’s brands.” While that may be a challenge for GE to create the sounds, I think the real challenge will be convincing consumers to change their habits. While sounds such as the buzzer for washer/dryers and beeps for microwaves may be annoying, they are linked to those specific objects. Whenever I hear the buzzer for the dryer, I know my clothes are done and ready to be folded. But if I were to buy a new dryer and hear deaf jam playing when my clothes are down, I would be confused as to what is happening. The music that is playing is already associated to whatever other meaning I applied to it. It may be happy, sad, calming or exhilarating. But it definitely is not my close being dry. Its so difficult to get new sounds to be associated with older objects that already have defined sounds.

    When creating new objects it is easier to create sounds that better reflect the brand or the feeling you want to convey. In computers, they are constantly evolving and the creation of new products also allow for the creation of new sounds. But when it comes to age old things such as microwaves and dryers, the sounds associated with it have been around for decades. It seems much more difficult to try and change peoples association with these sounds. At least for me, hearing Bon Jovi play when my clothes are done or softer sounds when my popcorn is ready, will make me feel confused about what it happening. Beeping and buzzing may be annoying, but they serve a purpose that has been successful for many, many years.


  26. So I was reading through the WSJ article thinking about all these brands that pay particular attention to the sounds their products make, and the entire time I’m thinking, “those loud damn sunchips bags. those loud damn sunchips bags.” And then lo and behold, the Sizzle talks about those damn sunchips bags.

    I’ve been aware of this concept of sonic awareness in product development for a while, having heard of GE’s initiative a couple years back. I hadn’t ever read anything that delved so deep into the art of product sound design, and this was absolutely fascinating. This reminds me of the way that theme parks such as Disney will pipe subtle ambient noise depending on what part of the park you’re in. In each of these cases, I really appreciate the attention to detail in adding minute things that many people won’t notice. Very cool stuff.


  27. After reading these articles, I am surprised at the amount of money and time that companies spend on the sounds connected with their products. It is important to companies to spend time and money to shape not only how the product looks and functions, but also how their products sounds. We would assume that food companies just worry about taste and smell, but to also concentrate on how the packaging sounds is fascinating. The GE article was interesting when they said that the sound that our appliances makes goes beyond functionality but also can set brands apart. The new GE line bases its beeps on different types of music according to the brand type whether high end or lower end appliances. When the appliance turns on it plays notes from the music instead of the regular beeps. I find all the beeping rather annoying and try to turn them off or put them at the lowest setting. While I was aware about the sound that Windows makes at start up, I was not aware of the amount of research that went behind it. I am one who usually turns the music off so that I don’t have to hear it when the computer starts up. My phone drives me crazy because of the Droid sound that cannot be turned off. It makes that awful sound every time that I restart my phone. The more I think about iconic sounds, such as MGM, the more I realize that are there for products. Another sound that is unique to the brand is the car beeping as you unlock it sound. Every brand has a different sound and I know that there is another Toyota nearby when I hear the beep because they all sound the same.


  28. In Ellen Byron’s “The Search for Sweet Sounds That Sell: Household Products’ Clicks and Hums are No Accident” in the Wall Street Journal, Byron writes “Sound, for the most part, isn’t the first thing consumers notice about a product.” It’s true. The first thing I notice in consumer products are the appearance and quality of the product, and then the sound.

    Byron writes that GE is “overhauling the abrasive buzzers, dings and beeps that clothes dryers, ovens and microwaves have been making for decades.” Once a brand is known for a specific sound on specific items-e.g. Snapple’s pop when opening a new bottle-it’s hard to completely overhaul it with something new that consumers aren’t used to or appeal to a wider audience.

    I haven’t used GE products because the washer and dryer in my apartment are really old, but they keep the same sounds. When you pull out the button to start washing, water starts gushing out in a specific area and when the clothes are in the dryer it has a sound that’s easily ignored. GE’s new sounds on their appliances may try to target a specific demographic, but what if that demographic doesn’t listen to those sounds? Byron points out that “Hotpoint,a budget-friendly line, will have a grunge-rock tune.” What if I don’t listen to grunge-rock music but I need something that fits my budget?

    Finding or creating sounds that appeal to a wide demographic range sell is incredibly difficult. With GE’s new sounds on their appliances they may get a different reaction than what they were hoping for with their lines and specific sounds.


  29. I guess I never really put much thought into the choice of sounds for the devices I use, such as my iPhone, or even something as unexpected as my mascara. Prior to reading Ellen Byron’s piece, I assumed that the sounds accompanying certain products were just there because of how they were constructed. However, various sounds of different products may suggest luxury, freshness, effectiveness, or security. Dyson’s quietest vacuum makes sense considering how loud vacuums typically are, but the examples of tampons and mascara were pretty interesting. The fact that the specific Clinique mascara clicks when the top is twisted is clever, as it assures users that it’s closed and it won’t dry out. Tampax Radiant quiet tampon wrapper enhances the product by protecting one’s privacy in the bathroom, as women were complaining about how awkward and noisy it was to open.

    This concept that sound plays a role in a product’s appeal and functionality got me thinking about why the specific sounds for my iPhone turning on and off were chosen. I wonder what kind of feelings the designers wanted them to convey. This also got me thinking about my microwave, as after the time is up, it beeps about four or five times, with about a minute in between each beep. Although it sometimes annoys me, this feature alerts users that there is something is the microwave that’s done being heated up.


  30. “The intangibles” as Ted Owen calls them, separate certain products from others. Carefully crafted, yet subtle sounds, have the ability to truly shape a user’s experience. They enhance the emotional and physical response that people have to the product, and if the product consistently provides that experience, the sounds become iconic. In this case the sounds become a part of a company’s branding. The Wall Street Journal article, “The Search for Sweet Sounds That Sell” brings up many brands and products that have very recognizable sounds. They discussed different products like the compost able chip bag, mascara tubes, Snapple lids, and Sharpies. Just hearing the writer describe the noises of each product, I immediately thought of specific encounters that I’ve had with each of them. It’s amazing how we associate memories with even the smallest of noises.

    These sounds are crafted to evoke a certain response in users. There are also other circumstances where sound is intentionally avoided. For example, Tampax researched the plastic for their wrappers to create a quieter alternative for users who preferred the idea of a more discrete noise from the wrapper. They actually measured the sound of the wrappers and were able to achieve a 25% decibel reduction. The director for Tampax Research and Development says “we took it to the next level on terms of sound avoidance.” By far the coolest part about it is that these sounds, are that they are no coincidence; they are intricately designed to do what they do.


  31. I was relieved to finally come across the Mac startup sound in the article for The Sizzle podcast we listened to, since, despite the depth of the article about the Windows startup sound, Apple’s was the one I couldn’t get out of my head. It’s distinctive and simple. Most importantly, it’s repeatable without being annoying. A recent trailer for the movie Steve Jobs simply repeated that sound over and over again over the accompanying music, while the visuals of the image slowly thinned into a monolith-looking block over Michael Fassbender’s face. Importantly, the film, and the version of Steve Jobs they decided to show, obsessed over the introduction of a new computer and how that computer needed to say “Hello” as its first action in front of people. It needed to communicate, instead of simply function. This serves, for me, as an ample simplification of the things we’ve read about. Our machines aren’t just doing things for us, they’re talking to us too, and the tone of that conversation is important.

    In keeping with the movie theme – also related to the whole Sun Chips bag debacle – I can’t help but be reminded of the hundreds of pre-movie videos essentially begging moviegoers to shut off their phones. We’ve talked about sound as branding, but silence also serves as branding too. Movie theaters are selling themselves on silence, or at least their devotion to it. Off the top of my head, a number of other companies/products are doing the same thing: Tesla, Kindle and, ironically, Bose, with their noise-cancelling headphones. As always, any discussion of sound must also include non-sound.


  32. Whenever I boot up my computer there’s always the assuring sound of the musical introduction that comes when reaching the desktop. I still remember how the Windows 98 and XP music sounded even though I haven’t heard them in a long time. As time went by I got used to the songs, but being around computers for so long caused me to become aware of the more intricate problems that surround using a computer.

    So the jingles of the songs stopped assuring me of any sort of “freshness” or “we’ve successfully booted up the computer.” All the jingle tells me is that the computer reached the desktop, and then the immediate SECOND thought is, “Alright, so how long will it take for me to do anything?” I’ve repaired, troubleshooted, and provided maintenance for dozens of computers before, and at this point, the sound seems more condescending than anything. It’s like I was given a warm welcome to a place, and then when the doors open the insides are just a terrible mess.

    The reading we did leaves me in a strange position. I can understand how people don’t want to be greeted with the sounds of shrill beeps or long, telegram-like blips when they finish washing something, or cooking something, or even booting up a computer. Sound lives with us, so when we’re doing something, considering we’re home and feeling comfortable, we wouldn’t want to be bombarded by things that discomfort us while we’re there. Leaving aside my issue with computers, having devices that greet us or provide assurance to us through sound is, in a way, almost subconscious, because when it works, at least for me, I barely notice it. But if something goes WRONG, like for example if the introductory music when going to the desktop stutters, then I will immediately recognize something has either gone wrong or is about to go wrong.

    But the other problem is, if so much effort is dispensed to craft the sound of an appliance or a car door, and it turns out that whatever devices used to make the sound have broken, then it might betray customer expectations when they have to pay for a gadget that only makes a sound and nothing more. Likewise, like with my computer experiences, if the jingle of the music works, but the computer doesn’t, then the effect of the music will be cheapened. I can understand how much work goes into making these sounds, or NOT making sounds, like with the issue of vacuums being too loud and trying to dampen them. But if making an effort to dampen or enrich these sounds is going to cost the customers, I worry about how much it will cost.

    – Champ


  33. Product design is a multisensory field; it makes sense that sound is emphasized, along with the form and visuals of the product. It should be noted that it isn’t just limited to smaller-than-people-sized products; these ideas apply to the design of spaces as well. Whether the desire is subtle influence over consumers through sound or a total lack of auditory stimulation, there’s plenty of academic literature on how designed objects should sound.

    There is silent, sinister intent in this use of designed sound: yes, the use of sound (and smell, etc.) can enhance our experiences, but it can also be used to influence our behavior. “The Sizzle” doesn’t exist because Chili’s thought it would be nice for their customers; it exists because it drives customers to seek out that pleasant experience. Chili’s is directly manipulating its customers, just as malls design their music to encourage walkers to visit several stores in one visit and grocery stores choose music to encourage purchases. Because consumers pay less attention to extra-visual sensation, they’re less likely to notice the manipulation.


  34. The article, Music@Microsoft.Windows: Composing Ambience, made me think of the noises in software, more specifically Microsoft software, for the first time ever. The sounds are so engrained in me that they are almost second nature, and I have never considered their existence, or what it’d be like if they were never there. Growing up with Microsoft the start-up sounds have become a part of my life so much that I never realized that they were there, and even though some of the sounds have changed, to me they are as natural as the product itself. From the start-up jingle to the error sounds to the noise in the sound controls, since I am so familiar with them, they have become synonymous with the software. I thought it was really interesting that Windows 3.1 received so much criticism for the harsh sounds, which eventually evolved into the brand which is known today with the help of musician Brian Eno. I had also never realized how much time and money went into making the noises that now are just second nature of the software which millions of people use. The research and development that went into composing the sounds is very much like the process of writing the software code and writing composition, and Thomas Rickert describes the process perfectly when he says, “Writing is composition, broadly construed: the synthesis and assemblage of multiple content threads of varying intensities, including discourses, colors, graphics, musics, sonics, tactiles, and more, all as gathered within, conditioned by, and expressive of a material and affective environment.”

    While the sounds of Microsoft software have become synonymous with the product itself, I question the importance of different product sound research and development. At what monetary and environmental cost are sounds of a product? While I think Snapple is a terrible drink which is terribly marketed and misleading, the fact that the sound of their bottled drinks both satisfy the consumers trust in the freshness of the product, and make an environmental impact. The fact that they are able to save “eliminated an estimated 180 million linear feet of plastic waste” is worth the sound of the bottle opening. On the flip side, I find it absurd that the Sunchips compostable chip bag was eliminated due to the sound. Compostable and biodegradable products are zero waste and will eventually break down and can be mixed with soil, which is much better than even recycling, or even worse ending up in a landfill. In both cases the choice of the company was driven by the consumer, which was also the case for Microsoft, however at what point do sounds matter more than an environmental impact. I know most GE appliances are Energy Star certified, but could their r&d money also be spent on making the appliances better on energy and water? I know not every consumer thinks this way, but companies drive the market as equally as the consumer.


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