Here is the scenario: you have a test in a couple of days, and are behind on your readings. Your need a calm place to study, and your roommate and hall mates are not helping you there. The community lounge is similarly occupied, and, worst of all, the library is full. You think the Clough’s rooftop garden would be the solution now; you frequently see other students studying there. Let us test that assumption.
The point of audition for the analysis of the CULC’s rooftop garden.
Looking at the rooftop garden’s soundscape, it can emulate a suitable studying environment. Said environment is best exemplified by a low amplitude keynote sound, a sense of community, and, most importantly, a consistent soundscape. The foundation of the atmosphere is laid with a low amplitude, low pitched hum that is continuously present. This keynote hum is spawned by the multitude of engines, whether from cars on the interstate or machinery across the center lawn. Intelligibly, there are signal sounds caused by fellow studious students (quiet conversation, papers turning, the occasional laugh). Psychoacoustically, this creates a feeling of community within the stressed individual – a feeling that one is not alone in the constant workload struggle.
The first two requirements being satisfied, what kind of consistency does the garden’s soundscape exhibit? Unfortunately, upon continuing to listen intelligibly, undesirable signal noises assert an irregular aspect into it. The high amplitude, and sharp tone of the sounds made by the beeping of construction machinery going in reverse, and the scraping of metal chairs against the concrete ground are bad enough. Having said that, the lack of patterns for these sounds breaks the concentration of the one studying. Even while recording notes to write this post, I found myself having to refocus on my task upon hearing these negative reverberations. Therefore, due to the most important aspect of a good studying site – consistency – not being satisfied, the rooftop garden of the CULC is not a quality environment to study.
The 4th floor of the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons is a study location frequented by many Tech students. The space is always “buzzing” with a white noise that provides the ideal backdrop for finalizing a lab report due to the 5th floor at noon or reviewing for that calculus quiz in Skiles at 3:05. Many noises contribute to this soundscape—the ding of elevators, the clamor of feet ambling up and down the central staircase—but the babbling of voices is the keynote sound that makes the Clough a perfect place to study.
Though conventional wisdom preaches utter silence as the best promoter of productivity, the noise of the Clough offers something that silence cannot—stability. In a sparsely populated soundscape, such as the Library, the squeak of a chair can radically alter the entire soundscape, shattering concentration like a pane of glass. In contrast, the chatter of the Clough creates a soundscape that is difficult to alter, discouraging selective hearing and promoting sound as an aid to productivity. Voices from all levels of the building bounce from concrete face to concrete face, mixing and mingling to create an unintelligible hum of conversation. The constituent signals comprising this hum have been blended so thoroughly that decoding any information regarding their original content or source is near impossible. It is a uniform and indistinct sound that does not lend itself to semantic or causal listening and allows the brain to focus fully on comprehending a text or composing a paper.
Yet, the amalgam of human voice that is the soundmark of the Clough is not entirely void of meaning. It retains a bustling timbre that is insidious. It chants “there are things to be done.” It energizes on the subconscious level and provides the vigor necessary to accomplish the tasks at hand. The next time you are getting ready to crank out a big paper, skip the Library and employ the excited hum of the Clough as the backdrop for your toils.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time walking between different buildings, getting lost and exploring the almost unbelievably beautiful campus in midtown Atlanta. Being an international student, I didn’t have an opportunity to tour the campus prior to the first week of school but I began my exploration for the perfect study spot on Day 1 of FASET. Living in a traditional dorm, I instantly recognized the inherently flawed soundscape of the small dorm room withit naturally victimised by noise pollution. After exploring the conventional student favourites of Library and Clough, I could finally find serenity in an area with soundmark designed to calm, relax, and concentrate a human being. The backyard of Eighth Street Apartment is the perfect outdoor space for concentrating, relaxing and solitary meditation during the day. The visual and acoustic traits of this landscape are remarkable.
First, the place lies at the near end of West Campus, allowing it to enjoy isolation during the daytime. This permits channelizing your senses into single focus and have a true nature experience which we, as an urban society, are rarely blessed to experience. While walking around the city, one often finds people trying to take refuge from the urban noise pollution by wearing headphones and immersing themselves in other gadgets. In stark contrast, the keynote sounds of the landscape — whistling breeze, sounds of crickets and birds chirping, hum of insects and susurrate of leaves along the tall trees — collectively creating an ambient experience.
Second, the background “music” of the soundscape allows for reduced listening while being plugged-out and experience the harmony of nature’s sounds. You must take a telephonic approach to the soundscape of this conducive environment as the background “music” helps to get away from any distractions (inner as well as outer) and really allows to concentrate at the task in hand. Further, the spatial signature of this sound prompts me to consider it as a POV sound that has strategically benches placed to have the best sound experience cut off from the hustling life of metropolitan Atlanta. The pitch and rate of the voices is just perfect to match with the rhythm of our breath and heart beats. It seems that we are intimately bound to mother nature by a unique ethereal connection.
Research results “strongly suggest that getting out into natural environments” could be an easy and almost immediate way to improve moods for city dwellers – NYT
As Henry Derozio experienced the bliss of nature under moonlight, you’re sure to find a similar but unique experience at this not so often visited place on campus. Scientifically speaking, the American Psychological Association certainly would support this perfect study spot. I’m glad to suggest you the perfect outdoor study spot when you don’t want yourself to be surrounded by many people.