Month: April 2013

Sound Studies class, Spring 2013 – students’ recordings

Some of the sounds recorded for the Sound Studies class, Spring 2013. Students were asked to relate everyday sounds with themes discussed in class, especially place, technology, and urban noise. I provided a list of 25 themes (such as traffic noise, live music, nature) to help them think acoustically. Most sounds were recorded close to the UT campus.

Sound and urban change: “sounds of nature” and upscale life in Austin, Texas

Austin's "Triangle" in north campus (2003)

Austin, Texas. North campus, in 2003

Screen Shot 2013-04-21 at 3.49.54 PM

“The Triangle”  in 2011, when I made the recording.

“Male frogs call to attract females for mating and to defend territories from rival males. Female frogs of some species prefer lower-pitched calls, which indicate larger, more experienced males. Acoustic interference occurs when background noise reduces the active distance or the distance over which an acoustic signal can be detected. Birds are known to call at a higher pitch or frequency in urban noise, decreasing acoustic interference from low-frequency noise. Using Bayesian linear regression, we investigated the effect of traffic noise on the pitch of advertisement calls in two species of frogs, the southern brown tree frog (Litoria ewingii) and the common eastern froglet (Crinia signifera). We found evidence that L. ewingii calls at a higher pitch in traffic noise, with an average increase in dominant frequency of 4.1 Hz/dB of traffic noise, and a total effect size of 123 Hz. (more…)

Soundwalk at the University of Texas

soundwalk map

The route taken

On March 27 2013 the Sound Studies class conducted a soundwalk across the UT campus. The point of departure was our classroom at the School of Music. The point of arrival was the Plaza of the Radio-Television-Film Department, where we would meet Prof. Andrew Garrison (who would guide us inside the RTF building and talk about film sound).

Each student received a small notebook to write what they were hearing as we walked. I was particularly interested in hearing focusing and the amount of detail included in the hearing — writing process. You can see the results of this experiment below.

Inside the School of Music


Sound Studies course – essays

This post presents essays by students currently taking my Sound Studies course. I thought it would be interesting to share (with their permission) some of their experiences and views on sound, memory, technology, and space.

Students were asked to briefly discuss one of the following topics:

a) My piece of technology: write about a sound/audio device (bass amplifier, guitar, iPod, magnetic tape, synthesizer, MP3, sound meter, car audio, microphone, etc.). Investigate the history of this piece of technology and describe how/why/when you use it.

b) Acoustic memory: some places (bedroom, house) and spaces (our neighborhood) tend to leave a strong sensory mark on us. Recollect and discuss some of the sounds and listening habits of your past. How do they relate with some of the topics discussed in this course?

c) My sonic environment in 3 days: in 3 days make a list of sounds you encounter daily according to type of sound, place (house, office, bar, restaurant, school, street, etc.), space (e.g., Nuences St. & San Jacinto), period (dawn, morning, lunchtime, afternoon, evening, and night), loudness (10 for extremely loud, 0 to almost soundless), and nuisance level (10 for extremely pleasant, 0 to extremely unpleasant). Briefly relate 2 sound sources with topics discussed in the course materials.

Essay #1

My personal anamnesis is related to signal sounds taken place in the comfort of my own home growing up. Weekends as a child were a time to sleep in and wake up with a big bowl of cereal to watch Saturday morning cartoons. There was only one factor that was in my way that would determine my plans for my Saturday and that was my mom. Being older now signifies more responsibilities and more work which during the week we are busy and the weekend signifies a time for rest and a chance to catch up with the chores that were left aside from the busy week. While I was thinking as a kid I’m going to watch cartoons and go out to play with friends, my mom was thinking laundry, moping, dusting, etc…; cleaning was what weekends were for according to my mom. Depending on the type of week my mom had and how tired she was on Friday was kind of an indicator of what to expect the next morning, but there was always one reassurance that would drive me crazy and not want to get out of bed, the sound of dishes being washed and clanking with each other in the morning. (more…)

15 Noise Stories (2)

This post is a part of a collection of news stories on noise in different places and about different types of noise (traffic noise, leisure noise, aircraft noise, etc.) Each post presents 15 stories (in English, Spanish, and Portuguese) on noise in urban centers across the world.


Designers criam torre que transforma ruído urbano em energia – O “Soundscraper” aproveita a poluição sonora das metrópoles para gerar eletricidade. Uma única torre poderia suprir até 10% da iluminação urbana de uma cidade como Los Angeles

Creating Energy from Noise Pollution – An honourable mention-winning entry in the 2013 eVolo Skyscraper Competition, dubbed Soundscraper, looked into ways to convert the ambient noise in urban centres into a renewable energy form.

US & Canada 

US (hearing loss): What Causes Hearing Loss – “Tens of millions of Americans, including 12 percent to 15 percent of school-age children, already have permanent hearing loss caused by the everyday noise that we take for granted as a fact of life.” (more…)