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Sonic Spaces

My second project was the continuation of my first project. Looking at space as a flexible changing thing that sound can enforce and manipulate; I created an Installation in the CFA stairwell. Six speakers were placed at varying levels along the stairwell and throughout the week I played a variety of different sounds to see how the acoustic quality would change how people interact with the space.

Monday- Stravinsky & Strauss (in reverse)

Tuesday- Construction ambience

Wednesday- Ocean ambience/bird calls

Thursday- CFA recordings

Friday- A Pulse

Along with the daily changing noises I wanted movement to be a large aspect of the piece, so I filtered the sound to each speaker differently. The speakers lower on the stairwell were high frequencies, and as you climbed the stairwell the frequencies slowly became lower and lower. People had the power to change what they were hearing by the way they moved throughout the space.

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The feedback from the piece was subjective and hard to document. For the most part, even though there was a clear view of all the speakers and cables, most people didn’t associate the sound with them. They though the wood shop was being extra noisy, or that the school of music was doing ‘something weird’. It wasn’t until people started moving throughout the space that they understood what was making the noise and how it was changing. This was caused from a few different things:

  1. CFA has a lot of reverb and it is hard to source a sound to a specific speaker unless you are very close to it.
  2. CFA has a lot of character to it. There are lots of different noises going on throughout the building at all times of the day, from voice majors singing, architecture students building, to art students creating art. Its just accepted that something is constantly going on that you might not be aware of or involved with throughout the halls.
  3. People have a hard time connecting the visual and aural without the involvement of movement. When you were able to walk up and down the stairs, it was much easier to understand what was going on versus just hearing it from down the hall.

No matter if people realized if it was coming from the speakers or not, they all reacted to it. I recorded someone walking up the stairs and when it was played everyone on the stairwell moved to let them pass before realizing no-one was there. Understanding that sound has an effect on what we do, where we are, and how we interact with a  space is important.

The Psychoacoustics of Sonic Space by Kayla Quinn

Can sound alone change the way that a person perceives a space? When you walk into a building are you ever surprised by what it sounds like? As an architect, I am more concerned with the application of real world spaces and how we can use digital tools to help expose and explain the wonders of acoustics and sound design. Sound is an undeveloped and unappreciated design that largely goes unnoticed because it is invisible. My project is an acoustic installation along the CFA staircase that looks at how people notice and understand the changing acoustic environment around them. As people walk up and down the stairs of CFA recorded ambient sounds will change in frequency. (as you go up the frequency get lower, as you go down it gets higher).  The installation will be run on max using a mac computer, an oct-capture interface, and  between 4-8 speakers, each with a different ranged filter. There will be four different ambient tracks, one of prerecorded CFA noise, one of mall/city traffic with a Mixture of CFA Manipulated sound put in, a track of ambient nature noise along a beach, and a track of classical music.

The installation is to have a neutral observation. Will people notice the change in acoustic atmosphere? will the like it so much they take the stairs instead of the elevator? do the hate it so the go out of their way to walk around it? do they only notice on the way down instead of the way up? Do they take their time to listen to it? to wander through the stairway? do they point it out to someone else?

The installation is on schedule to be ready on November 28th and to stay up for a week. It will be between the mezzanine level and the 3rd floor of CFA. A video camera will be set up to record peoples response to the installation, and a few interviews will take place and be recorded for the results.

Here are the max files:



and the ambient noise of CFA:

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Should I stay or should I PFFT?

I split the song “should I stay or should I go” by the clash and I split it into different sections of song, (drums, vocals, and guitar/extra). I wanted to look at how the pfft can easily create crossovers and how using different crossovers with different types of frequencies could still be put together to make a song completely different from the starting point, but still mesh and sound like music. Here is the finished song i created with live frequency changes:

And here is what the max-patch i used looked like.


screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-11-18-57-pm screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-11-18-48-pm

Ive attached the code for the patch here:



Kayla Quinn



my original signal is a the last 10 seconds of the song ‘elements’ by Lindsey Stirling. I wanted something that had a good beat and high frequencies. Here is the Signal I used:

I played around with the convolving for a while and I ended up with a list of 18 different noises afterwards. From them I chose my favorite out and played for you here. In order I have a small flutter echo i recorded from the chosky, a large echo I recorded from outside and underneath gates, an IR from underwater i downloaded from, a heart-beat i downloaded from, an elephant squeaking sound effect i had on my computer, a traditional Bulgarian horn i had on my computer, and the beginning of the song ‘this is war’ by thirty seconds to mars which is almost the exact opposite of an envelope in the way that it steadily increases overtime instead of releasing. you can listen to them here:

Here is the end result of the signal being convolved. It was interesting how fast the high notes were destroyed and the space that sounded the most interesting (the flutter echo in the chosky) was the least interesting convolution.

An Unwanted Time Machine: Anthem Part 2

I started off this project with the recording that I would loop. The most important part of ‘Anthem Part 2’ by Blink 182 is the first 8 seconds. Those first two cords get the listener pumped and ready for the rest of the song. It creates an anxiety and longer to hear the next verse. but what if it never came? What if you were stuck in this loop of the song forever? (Honestly, I would probably throw my computer at some part)

I played around with the timing of the song and the left-right speaker set up to throw off the listeners hearing even more, in order to create this sense of time shifting. Not only was there feedback, echo, and delay, but if you listen to it on stereo, the binaural timing of each ear is also completely different. I also played around with a frequency shift in order to pronounce the amount of echo there was. Parts of the MAX code are specifically timed, while others are easily adjusted and played with throughout the piece. Here is the sound of the result:


And here the link to the github:


Kayla Quinn

I am recording in a room

For this Assignment I was very interested in the aspect of using the “room” as a system. (I understand that it isn’t that original but i am an architect and building my thesis around acoustics and this was really fascinating to me). I looked for the most reverberant room I could get my hands on. It turned out to be my bathroom, which has a reverberance time close to that of a concert hall. (which is why people love to sing in showers). I then recorded and re-recorded the sounds of a human voice, a guitar, a synthesizer, and a trumpet to see how the different frequencies, amplitudes, and harmonics would change within the space. The feedback loop ran for 20 cycles.  After a few feedback loops, speech became unintelligible, but what was surprising was that the difference between the 3 instruments and the human voice also became unintelligible. The trumpet lasted the longest and was easiest to pick out, the guitar and human voice changed drastically within 3 feedback loops, while the synthesizer also gained more feedback, it almost seemed like a natural progression. Another interesting thing that happened was the elongation of notes due to the high reverberance time. A half second click from my laptop became 5 seconds, the small shuffling of me in the background grew to have the same amplitude as the guitar. If I were to do this project again I would want to do it in a larger room. I think the natural frequency of the reverberation was too high for my recorder on my laptop. I also want to use a better recorder than just my laptop to make sure the fan on my hard drive doesn’t interrupt my recordings. I think that is what lead to the “ssssshhhh-ing” gurgle effect of the feedback, instead of one steady stream of frequency. Here is the result to listen for yourself:


Kayla Quinn