This Is An Air Horn Reverberating In a “CloudChamber” In London

June 23, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

CloudChamber is an online project which takes submitted Soundcloud links and plays them into the Reverberation Chamber at the National Physical Laboratory in London. The sound of your mp3 reverberating against the walls of this chamber is recorded, processed, and re-uploaded to Soundcloud so you can compare it to the original.

CloudChamber describes the mechanics of the “Reverberation Chamber” on their website:

Put simply, it’s a big empty room with very hard walls, floor and ceiling and no parallel surfaces. This means that sound in the chamber bounces around a lot and therefore has a long reverberation time – a measure of for how long a sound is present in a room after whatever is making that noise has stopped making it.

Low frequencies reverberate for 30 seconds in the room, but they must be recorded through a microphone. As soon as someone enters the room, their body absorbs some of the sound, making it reverberate less.

To try out CloudChmaber, we sent a standard air horn noise, naturally.

This was the result. The reverb is subtly textured — a blurred echo of its brief original, an iconic component of dance hall music.

Composer Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting In A Room (1969) functioned in a similar way. Lucier recorded himself narrating a text, played the recording back to the room and re-recorded it. Several homages have appeared over the years, including Jacob Kirkegaard AION (2005), for which the artist spent three days in the abandoned, post-Chernobyl disaster town of Pripyat, Ukrainian. Kirkegaard recorded inside a former church, an auditorium, a swimming pool, and a gymnasium, for ten minutes each, then played it back to the space and re-captured the field recording over and over, as it layered into a dense four-part piece, alive with the frequency of the deserted places.

CloudChamber will not be processing more sounds for awhile, so if you submit now it’s hard to know when you’ll get your track back, but they encourage your submission anyway.

Here is a selection of the tracks they processed so far — mostly musicscapes, which worked out a bit more impressively than our submission.