Zack Lee's blog

Soundwalk: Jay Street-MetroTech

Posted at — Sep 17, 2019

Photo by Martin David on Unsplash Photo by Martin David on Unsplash

This is a sound walk created by Zack Lee and Julie Lizardo.

It takes place within the 370 Jay Street building in Brooklyn, New York. This walk will take you through the history of the building as you make “three stops” : 1938, 1960’s, and the present.

Instructions before you begin: The walk is intended to start outside of the entrance to the 370 Jay Street building(A few steps away from the door). Make sure you have a NYU ID to enter the building or have told the security guard in advance that you will need access to enter the turnstiles on the left when the times comes.

Special thanks to Russell Ladson and Abby Lee for allowing us to record their voices for our narrative.

On the first day of the project, Julie and I decided to do some research on the history of the 370 Jay Street building. I thought the building was newly built, however to my surprise, I discovered that the building had a quite long history. The building was originally built to be used as the Board of Transportation’s headquarters in 1939 which opened in 1951 until its dissolution in 1953. Then the building was taken by the New York City Transit Authority which became part of what is now the MTA in 1968. In January 2006, the money train operations ended, after which the MTA largely vacated the site. And on April 23, 2012, the MTA agreed to eventually turn the building over to New York University (NYU), with the university planning to convert the site for use as part of its Brooklyn Campus.

After learning the long history of the building, we decided to create a soundwalk which can not only teach them the history of the building but also provides an experience as if they are traveling back in time. We started by writing the narration script first. We have made the soundwalk to be consist of 3 parts that are BOT era, MTA era and NYU era. Julie quickly wrote a draft and then we both added some details to it. When the script was finished, we’ve added onto the script which sound needs to be played on each line of the narration. And then we separated them into the sounds we can record ourselves and the sounds we need to find online and wrote them as a list in Google Doc so we can share them.

On the recording date, we captured sounds from inside and outside of the building using the Zoom recorder and a condenser microphone. We needed to record multiple times to capture the sound we like within a good level of volume. (between -12db and -6db) And then we recorded Julie’s voice for the narration in one of the phone booths. She recorded her voice multiple times until both of us were satisfied. It took a long time to record all the sounds we need but we were pretty satisfied with the overall quality of the sounds.

And then, we found the sounds we needed from online, we found most of the sounds from Freesound. For the war sounds, I sampled it from the Apocalypse now movie clip on Youtube.

Lastly, we edited our sounds using Adobe Audition Software. Adobe Audition It took a lot of time placing each sound to be played on correct timing. We’ve also spent some time making each track balanced and clear. Also, we had to take some parts out of the narration since the original version exceeded 5 minutes.

When we finally finished editing, we tried the soundwalk ourselves and we were satisfied with the result. Although it took a lot of time and effort, It was a great learning process.

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