The Sounds of Adulthood

It’s very difficult to make doing laundry a fun experience, the Fitten Hall Laundry Room is a great example of that fact. Laundry rooms symbolize adulthood in the sense that it is every person for themselves. Washing your clothes and drying your clothes because no one is going to do it for you anymore. The soundscape of the laundry room does not make you feel any better about the experience. If it were not for the click of the washing machine unlocking its door, the buzz of the dryer as it ends its cycle, or the chime of your phone when the text comes through saying your machine is done, we would drown in the cacophony of sounds that identify the laundry room.

Most prefer not to stay in the room, so they can go do other more important things like sit around in a different room. For the few who choose to stay in the laundry room, the lack of ambient music leads to people putting in their head phones missing out on the wonderful sounds that surround them. As soon as you, a GT Freshman, step into the room, you are hit with the ever present hum of the many machines in the area. The laundry room is one of the few places where the sound of the AC unit is unidentifiable. The sounds heard usually have low tones, medium pitch, and a low intensity, except for the one high pitched, squeaky door sound whenever someone uses the bathroom door. The distinct sound of clothes and buttons hitting the inside of the dryer is the soundmark of the area, the same way it is for all laundry rooms. Through the sound of the room, one signal shines through and is by far the most crucial sound to the process of washing and drying clothes, the beautiful sound of a machine being finished. To the unfamiliar ear, the unlocking of the washing machine door or the buzzer of the dryer might not register, but Georgia Tech has allowed students to add a new signal through text message alerts to your phone. These signals help the procession of the task of doing laundry.

Hears to Getting Swole

Many people come to floor zero of the Campus Recreation Center with different goals but they share a common task: motivation. While the type of exercise varies from High Intensity to cardio to becoming stronger (my usual exercise), the main task I will focus on is how the sound motivates the gym-goer. Towards the end of exercising, what motivates someone better than a high energy environment? Apart from being a high energy environment, the listener moves from an active state of listening to a passive one as they start exercising and concentrating and attending to what their bodies say.

The air is held up by the constant hum of treadmills, marked with a periodic high pitched squeal as the belt goes around the motors. As if accompanying the melody of the treadmill, a metallic – percussive almost – thudding is heard from weight machines. Some gym-goers at the Campus Recreation Center let out loud grunts, others let out forceful exhalations that can be heard from a mile away. The speakers from the ceiling play popular and energetic music to pump up the exercising individuals. But while this cacophony of sounds is kicked up, most people listening to their choice of music with their earphones. Even so, the rhythm of the sounds in the gym act as a metronome.


Listen for yourself!


The broad range of tones generated from the various sources creates a sound that one can’t help but listen to passively, leading to a heightened sense of self-awareness, listening to the limits of the body and actively pushing them.

The motivation also comes from the faint “rep-counts” that trainers perform. Hearing “1,2,3…” pushes you to do your best and beyond. A one-upmanship that is built upon just hearing others exercise. I therefore propose that it is the fidelity of the environment that is the more important listening mode at a gym. Conversations at the gym that go above a murmur are frowned upon since they distract others from their exercise. The constant sound acts like a white noise for the mind. The brain slowly strays from hearing the music, grunts, treadmills and stair climbers and focusses on doing its individual best.