Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Subway Soundwalk

It is 10 am and I am waiting for the F train to take me to school.  I am always on the train usually listening to music, dozing off or thinking about food.  But today I am just going to listen. I can hear the train come before I see it. The screeching is loud and unpleasant but not unbearable. The train comes to a complete stop with a dramatic thud.

I’m glad I got one of the new trains, they block out a lot of the unwanted background noise. I hear the breaks being released and the train starts to move. I can hear the wheels rotating underneath me as we start to accelerate. The friction of the metal on the wheels and tracks make a lot of different noises. They have a huge rage of amplitude from loud breaks to the smooth consistent straight tracks that make you feel like you’re on a boat. They also have a wide rage of frequency from the low vibration of the wheels to the high pitch screeches of, yet again the breaks.

Now I’m focused on the foreground, all the sounds inside the train. Here is where all the good stuff are. The air coming out of the ventilation system is a constant soft hum. The automatic conductor coming out of the speakers is crisp in the new trains. With both friendly sounding female and male voices. Unfortunately, the real conductor’s voice is often impossible to understand, this is because they are either too far or too close to the mic, sometimes its because they have a thick accent. It helps to be a New Yorker.  The people inside make most of the busy noise. They talk to each other, some of them sound like they are talking to everyone. News papers are being folded, paper bags and aluminum foil are opening up to breakfast. Rap music is bleeding out of some annoying kids headphone.  If your lucky you can get someone come in and play the guitar, drums or sing for some change.

I have a love hate relationship with our transit system. This exercise has helped me open my ears to the deadly train tracks and automated conductors.  Thanks for reading!