The Sound of Om is Really Just Ambient Office Noise, Right? /// NYC Architecture as OM’ing Soundscape

Ahh…the present moment….. In the NYC this non-state manifests as an unconditional timelessness filled with screaming babies, garbled subway announcements, the ramblings of crazy people with their shoes off, and inconsiderate straphangers who play games on their phone with the sound on.

And yet, for some, the ambient sounds of the world are simply the stuff of making things.

Urban Omnibus has an interview with Karen Van LengenKenan Professor of Architecture at the University of Virginia, who ‘s working a project called Soundscape Architecture, “an interpretative web-based project that listens to and records the sounds of iconic spaces of architecture, and then interprets them visually, acoustically, and aurally.”

Van Legen has this to say about our very own Grand Central Terminal:

“[T]he main hall is the most oceanic, beautiful, voluminous, heroic space. There is enormous energy in this soundscape. It’s the entrance to a great world city, and you can hear the sense of awe and wonder.”

Grand Central Station from the blog

Grand Central Station from the blog

She goes on to discuss the New York Public Library Reading Room as…

“a voluminous space, like Grand Central, but it has a very different soundscape. The library has one of my favorite sounds of all that I’ve recorded: the oak chairs sliding across the terra cotta floor. It can sound like a lion roaring. That specific sound is so beautiful because it connects with why the building was built in the first place.”

This exists in our city!

This exists in our city!

Urban Omnibus describes Van Lengen’s project as…

“An interactive online streetscape allows users to engage with acoustically interesting spaces from around the world, explore the physical and experiential attributes that contribute to their aural uniqueness, and then engage with animated new musical compositions inspired by sounds she recorded of the building in use.”

Listening to the NY Public Library Reading Room on the site with headphones on is totally enchanting. When I allowed the sounds to exist as people-made, they were curious. However, when I let the sounds rather be made by strange biologies populating a giant structure, the whole experience transformed into a symphony of organism music.

Quite lovely.

Check out Urban Omnibus for the full interview!

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