My recording is primarily an urban soundscape, although is does contain natural elements. It begins with the sound of my neighbors hammering something several houses down the street. At 0:02, a car can be heard accelerating on Ponce. Around 0:05, as the sound of the car fades, a helicopter flying overhead becomes audible. An unidentified sound—perhaps two planks of wood colliding—briefly interrupts the drone of the helicopter at 0:22. Cars pass by starting at 0:24. Birds begin to chirp at 0:30. About five seconds later, the hammering resumes. At 0:48 the faint voices of prisoners playing basketball at the Atlanta Transitional Center can be heard. Another unidentified sound is heard at 0:54. At 0:55 the voices become slightly more noticeable. A second later, the birds begin to chirp again, but more quietly as if from a greater distance. For a brief moment, beginning at 1:00, many of the elements of the soundscape overlap. A pack of cars drives by on Ponce. The hammering resumes yet again. Birds chirp for several more seconds. The prisoners’ voices continue to be heard. At 1:08 a child’s voice adds another layer to the soundscape. The prisoners’ voices become louder as they move from one side of the court to the other at 1:22. A large truck accelerates loudly at 1:25.
Initially I was bored with my soundscape, but the longer I spent listening to it and identifying the different layers, the more interested I became. At 0:05, I appreciate how the sound of the helicopter occupies the same range of sound as the car when it fades away. Although very brief, I particularly enjoy the way the birds sound at 0:30. I feel disconnected from that point until about 0:50 when the prisoners’ voices become audible. The noise at 0:54 interests me because I am unable to identify its source. I enjoy the few seconds when all of the layers combine at 1:00. I also enjoy when the voices can be heard more loudly than before at 1:22.
This soundscape is relaxing. Even though it’s quiet and most of the sounds are fairly isolated, the soundscape captures familiar sounds that I expect to hear on a daily basis. The proximity of the prisoners can be unsettling—many of them are serving life sentences at the Atlanta Transitional Center for crimes such as murder and aggravated assault—but I think it’s nice to hear something other than cars driving by.
Since I hear most of the major components of this soundscape (helicopters flying overhead, birds chirping, cars driving by, prisoners playing basketball) on a daily basis, I associate these sounds with sitting outside smoking. A lot of the time I spend in my back yard, especially during the colder months, is spent with a cigarette in hand. Because the recording was made in my back yard, it also reminds me of having parties over the summer when it was warm enough for everyone to be outside. The sound of the helicopter at the beginning of the soundscape reminds of several times when I have seen a helicopter and taken it as a sign that something newsworthy was happening. Most recently, when police thought they found a bomb strapped to the 14th Street Bridge over I-85, I noticed helicopters hovering over the highway, which caused me to look up the story online.