Soundscapes – Reflection & Response

For this last extra credit assignment, Carl asked us to think about soundscapes.

A soundscape is classified in three predominant ways:

Keynote Sounds: A keynote sound is the dominant tonal presence in a soundscape[…]

Signals: An infrequent and also alarming informational sound is classified as a signal[…]

Soundmarks: the acoustic equivalent of a land mark[…]

In the US Navy I spent over a 1,000 hours on watch (standing guard, patrolling, etc.). Situational awareness on watch is paramount – it’s important to know where you are and what is going on around you. Sound plays a critical role in this process. For this assignment, I have chosen the USS Kitty Hawk pier vehicle gate.

Keynote sounds: The ventilation ports roar as they move thousands of cubic feet of air, it is constant, and harmonizes a sharp whining of coils with a dull hum. The waters are still, except for the occasional bass-heavy groaning of a barge, metal chains clank sharply on wood planks, and giant inflatable bladders rub against rusted plates with a low but rapid Pop-pop-popopopop.

Signals: The 1MC (general announcement system) blasts dozens of announcements; meal times, arrival and departure of high-ranking officers and officials, calling the duty section, calling working parties, calling the end of the work day, etc.; the circuit engages with a snap-click before broadcasting a scratchy, distorted hiss of dozens of loud speakers, reverberating on countless steel surfaces.

Soundmarks: North of my post there is a designated smoking area, it is one of many. There is a constant murmuring chatter, low grumbling voices and an occasional laugh, but the words don’t come through clearly. There’s the quiet, smooth Tick-Schwick of lighters igniting endless cigarettes, and the Hiss-Splat of sailors spitting on the deck.



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