Help Preserve the Sound of Historic Spaces

10.21.13 Andy Cush

On Kickstarter, a group of audio engineers from Queens is taking a novel approach to the documenting and preserving of old buildings: capturing their sound. Not simply the sounds of the things that happen inside, like leaky old pipes or wind rustling through broken windows, but the sound of the buildings themselves.

Rooms have unique sonic characteristics determined by things like their size, the objects inside, and the materials of the walls, floor, and ceiling. It’s the reason your voice sounds different when you’re singing in the shower versus talking on the phone in your kitchen. Using a technique called convolution, it’s possible to record these characteristics and apply them to other sounds–to make a guitar sound like it was played inside the lincoln memorial, for example, or a speech sound like it was happening in Penn Station.

The team hopes to raise money to record the reverberant characteristics of a number of historic buildings like abandoned factories and hostpitals all over the U.S., and to create an accompanying web series that explains the history behind the spaces. When they’re done, they’ll make all of the recordings free to use.

Check out the project and donate here.

(Photo: Stefan Ray/Flickr)