SSR #3

Katelyn Cavagna

Professor Brooks

ENGL 320

14 May 2018

SSR #3




In Chapter One of “Sound Play: video games and the musical imagination” the author, William Cheng, discusses his experiences with the video game Fallout 3, noting the influence of the music and sounds within the game. He first discusses the three diegetic radio stations – Enclave Radio, Galaxy News Radio, and Agatha’s Station. Cheng notes that the music and voices emanating from these stations have the opportunity to allow listeners to reminisce; however, there also filled with more negative motives. Cheng describes the music of The Enclave to be imperialistic and xenophobic. He describes Agatha’s Station as having potential for elitism, exoticism, and colonialism. He ends this conversation by saying, “And of course, the fact that all this music is transmitted through radio is enough to fuel endless debates about consumerism, commercialism, and propaganda”  (Cheng 35). Cheng then steers the conversation into the violence of the game, noting the juxtaposition between the violent nature of the game and the cheerful, upbeat, or patriotic music. However, when playing the game Cheng notes that they seem to go together. He writes, “soundtrack and savagery alike, when repeated ad nauseam,, easily become relegated to the status of background noise. To the extent that the two exist as mundane, redundant components of a gaming experience, they go together just fine” (Cheng 51). However, the music and sounds in the game seem to have an obvious influence on a user’s actions and experiences in the game.




Similar to Chapter One of Sound Play, the Introduction to Sound Play also has similar arguments within it. The Introduction to Sound Play first notes the role of the imagination in virtual worlds, like video games. He writes, “Imagination: it’s the life force of make-believe, a driving principle of play, and the crux of how we derive pleasure and enchantment from virtual worlds….Much of the appeal of video games fromes from their ability to translate our physical input into extravagant sounds and onscreen animations (Cheng 4-5). This is similar to Cheng’s argument within the first few pages of Chapter One where he discussed the role of the imagination in the human fascination with imagining the end of the world.


Chapter One of Sound Play also featured an interesting discussion on the relationship between music and violence. This discussion reminded me of the documentary we watched in class after reading Chapter 31 of The Auditory Culture Reader. In that documentary it was noted that some military soldiers used rock music to amp themselves up in war times. Although the music is drastically different in Fallout 3, some players did say that the music influenced their aggressive and violent behavior. Similar to that, the music from the band Disturbed was widely listened to in the military due to its aggressive and loud nature. This music affected the moods of the soldiers and, according to them, was able to keep them awake and agile in times of crisis. Both chapters seem to discuss this connection between music and violence.


This chapter also connected to Chapter 2 of Radio and the Gendered Soundscape. In this chapter, Ehrick discusses how radio stations were censored due to the fear of propaganda entering the airwaves during World War II. Ehrick writes, “World War II was also the first major radio war, and radio propaganda and consequent struggles over who controlled the airwaves emerged as an important background in the Rio de la Plata as in many other parts of the Americas and beyond” (Ehrick 87).  During WWII Hitler took great advantage of the power of propaganda through radio, film, and his speeches. During this time, it was common for pro-Nazi propaganda to infiltrate societies through radio. This is similar Cheng’s discussion of possible propaganda being spread over the airwaves of the three radio stations that are featured in Fallout 3.


Although not the main focus of the chapter, I was interested in the Sound Play’s small discussion on how in the world of Fallout there was no new music because the atrocity of the time depleted any creative energy. It was interesting to compare that make believe circumstance with the circumstances of the African American slaves discussed in the Sonic Color Line. As most know, African American slaves sung religious songs for many different reasons. Their music was used to send messages and to keep hope in the darkest of times. These unbelievably difficult times for these African American slaves produced an entire genre of music that is still practiced today. There was not a particular chapter in the The Sonic Color Line that discussed the spirituals sung by African American slaves in depth, but it was mentioned briefly in Chapter 3 with the Jubilee Singers and their rendition of the spirituals. Stoever writes, “Fastidiously dressed in Victorian finery and singing ‘spirituals’ in a muted pianissimo, the Jubilee Singers audiovisually performed what Alexander Weheliye dubs ‘sonic afro-modernity,’ where sound offers ‘more flexible and future-directed provenances’ through which black subjects understand themselves and (re)negotiate their participation in Western modernity” (Stoever 133-134).  Unlike in Sound Play, it seems in the real world the most difficult times are still not devoid of music.


Finally, Sound Play Chapter One can be loosely tied back to an aspect from the Introduction to The Auditory Culture Reader. In this introduction there is a small reference to the meanings of sounds to an individual. Bull and Back write, “Sounds are embedded with both cultural and personal meanings; sounds do not come at us merely raw” (Bull and Back 7). This is contradictory to the world within Fallout 3. In that world, those who listen to the music do not understand its historical significance due to a sort of mass amnesia. The music is not listened to or acknowledged by the people within the game. To them, it does appear to come at them merely raw. However, that is the product of imagination and living in a make believe world. However, it does not match the notion presented by Bull and Back that sounds and music will always have some sort of meaning to its listener.



  1. How does music play a role in other ways of virtual reality, such as movies or television?
  2. What other instances do we see where difficult circumstances, or even times of war, have created new songs?  


Word count: 1062


Sound Play Concept Map

    1. Aural consciousness: the mind of the ear
      1. Diegetic vs. non-diegetic: sound resulting from the immediate environment vs. disembodied sound
      2. Aesthetic conventions – things that align with familiar aesthetic rules in a given environment
      3. Aesthetic disjunctions – things that go against the familiar aesthetic rules in a given environment
      4. Epistemes – systems of understanding or bodies of ideas which give shape to the knowledge of that time
      5. Media boundaries – norms for a type of media
      6. Moral vs. Pragmatic Reasoning – what’s right in theory and what’s applicable in practice
      7. Circumscribed Fiction/Reality – the environment that governs a certain set of norms, conventions, epistemes, etc. (The Fallout 3 universe is a circumscribed fiction)


  • Major concept:


        1. Interpretation of Sound


  • Sound and Play


      1. Nostalgia – sound that we associate with the past (typically “the golden days”)
      2. Irony using sound inappropriately or in opposition of a situation, usually for a humorous and/or emphatic effect.
      3. Rhetorical Posturing – leading an audience along using rhetoric (for sound, using sound to lead an audience to a set of conclusions
      4. Juxtaposition  similar to irony; the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect, less about humor than irony, more about revealing important traits in the opposite/contrasting things.
      5. Semantics the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning
      6. Use of Silence – using silence to create a tense atmosphere. Often used in horror games.
      7. Major concepts:
        1. Soundscape
        2. Societal standing through radio messaging
        3. Feigned safety through controlled sound


  • Dissonance


      1. Dystopia – an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one. Typical “dissonant” to current reality, although similarities between dystopia and current reality are often made for effect (i.e. the book 1984)
      2. Cultural upheaval – upheaval of some facet of a culture, or of the culture altogether. A concept or product that breaks the current cultural sphere.
      3. violence/Sound violence – aural disruption/ battling through audio
      4. End times – the end of a known way of life/ world


  • Major concept:


      1. Sound as punishment


320 SSR #2

Katelyn Cavagna

English 320

18 April 2018

SSR #2




In chapter 1 of Radio and the Gendered Soundscape the author, Christine Ehrick, uses the life of Silvia Guerrico as a focal point for a wider discussion of women in radio. Silvia Guerrico, a woman in the world of radio in Buenos Aires in the 1930s, was described as a ‘Modern Girl.’ She was a woman who was confident, independent, and had the look of a typical flapper girl. Ehrick points out that her career in radio as this Modern Girl sparked controversy among the radio community and its listeners. However, by looking at her story one can see the struggles women faced by participating in the public sphere (as evident in the “Guerrico Scandal”), as well as the societal norms and guidelines women were forced to follow in the public sphere in order to lessen their supposed threat. Ehrick writes, “If we understand Silvia Guerrico as a ‘cerebral’ Modern Girl and a ‘lustful’ New Woman, we have a sense of her significance as an early radio voice, going against the grain of the 1930s rioplatense soundscape and illustrating the complex interactions between radio and feminism in the early phases of the medium’s development (Ehrick 34-35).




Guerrico’s appearance and voice as the Modern Girl is reminiscent of the story of Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter from chapter 4 of The Sonic Color Line; except in Ledbetter’s circumstances he was exploited into performing a black stereotype as to gain the attention of white audiences. However, in both circumstances there was a close connection between appearance, voice, and inherent threat to society. Jennifer Stoever, the author of The Sonic Color Line, writes, “Lomax’s relentless marketing of Ledbetter as a ‘to-be-lynched’ body pressured the sonic color line’s dynamics toward characterizing black male voices as dangerous and hypersexual to ‘match’ the visual framing of their bodies as inherently criminal, sexual, and strong” (Stoever 195). In Ledbetter’s case he was performing as what white audiences perceived to be the average black person, who was seen as a threat to the white dominated society. Both Guerrico and Ledbetter were public figures for what either the white dominated or male dominated societies feared in these minorities based on their appearance, voice, and participation in society.


Chapter 1 of The Sonic Color Line Stoever discusses the general racialization of sound, which is similar to how people developed a sexist attitude and perception to female voices. In Stoever’s discussion she uses ads made to track down slaves who had escaped their masters. In these ads the voices of the slaves were described using racist ideas (Stoever 29-30). Stoever writes, “The culturally constructed sonic difference not only marked certain tones, grains, and cadences as ‘black’ but also, by the comparison that ghosts these ads, suggests whites sensed their voices as normative and not easily categorizable” (Stoever 30). Not only did white people find differences between their voices and black people’s voices, but assumed that their voices, in comparison, were better, therefore giving them another reason to believe that they were superior to black people. In Guerrico’s case the same thing was done to her, but it was the female’s voice that was criticized and deemed as inferior to male voices and inappropriate for the radio.


In the Introduction to The Auditory Culture Reader Michael Bull and Les Back briefly discuss the connection between surveillance and sound. They use Foucault’s description of Bentham’s panopticon to describe how sound can be a form of surveillance. They write, “Bentham’s prison was also a listening prison in which, through a series of tubes, the inmates could be heard at all times” (Bull and Back 3). In the story of Guerrico and the scandal with Ramon Novarro this idea of surveillance played a vital role. On her radio shows her every word she spoke was being heard and scrutinized by its listeners. This scrutiny also proved to be enhanced due to the fact that she was a woman working in a male dominated public sphere. The medium of the radio allowed for her voiced to be broadcasted and surveyed by the public, which in turn ended in a scandal that almost resulted in the end of her career.


In Chapter 29 of The Auditory Culture Reader Emily Thompson discusses the move from silent to sound films with the invention of the Vitaphone and other turntable units. Within that discussion Thompson briefly touches on the sexism within that field of operating these machines. She writes, “It is likely that in some theaters, the former accompanist was put in charge of the non-sync unit, possibly ‘performing’ in front of the audience as before, but this time playing records instead of a piano or violin. In small-town cinemas, these musicians had often been women, and these women had long been the target of criticism by industry professionals for their perceived lack of talent” (Thompson 361). Women performing or participating in the public sphere were often scrutinized due to their gender and sexist ideas that women could never perform as well as men. Like these women, Guerrico also faced this criticism while working in the world of radio.


In the Introduction to Radio and the Gendered Soundscape Christine Ehrick discusses how patriarchy can be heard. She writes, “The most obvious way we can hear gender inequality in the soundscape is through the historical sequestering (muting, silencing) of women’s voices” (Ehrick 13). She continues saying, “Just as other aspects of gender inequality become neutralized, so the ear becomes attuned to this patriarchal soundscape. If the female voice broaches these boundaries, it disrupts the sonic environment and the result is often perceived as dissonant and jarring” (Ehrick 14). Guerrico faced instances like this in her radio career. It was believed that women’s voices were not for radio and that they could not be listened to comfortably. For this reason, Guerrico was criticized for being on the radio with her female voice. In another sense, this also relates to the chapter regarding Guerrico in regards to the Guerrico scandal. Guerrico used her voice to portray a message that was threatening to the male dominated society. In doing so, her words in themselves, along with her voice, were seen as jarring.



  1. How has new technology increased this idea of surveillance through the senses? Do you think this surveillance is a good or bad thing?  
  2. What sexist expectations/stereotypes or negative assumptions are still present in society in terms of how women speak or perform in the public sphere?


Word count: 1089


Story Board for Project

Storyboard for Project:

Clip 1

  • Narrated introduction discussing the differences in regional soundscapes

Clip 2

  • Amber’s interview with a resident from Baltimore
  • Throughout the interview when the subject makes reference to sounds from their childhood the listening audience will hear those sounds as well

Clip 3

  • Short narration discussing the movement from he soundscape of  Baltimore to the soundscape of Boston
  • We will pose a question to the listening audience regarding what their expectations are for how different the next soundscape will sound

Clip 4

  • Alex’s interview with his dad from Boston
  • Like the second clip, throughout the interview when the subject makes reference to sounds from their childhood the listening audience will hear those sounds as well

Clip 5

  • Again a short narration discussing the movement of location from Boston back to Maryland, but in Dundalk instead
  • We will pose inquiries for the audience making them question how similar or different this sonic landscape will be from the two shown previously

Clip 6:

  • Levi’s interview with his mom from Dundalk
  • Like the previous clips, throughout the interview when the subject makes reference to sounds from their childhood the listening audience will hear those sounds as well

Clip 7

  • Again, a short narration discussing the movement to a location that is again out of the state of Maryland

Clip 8

  • Kate’s interview with her grandmother from Connecticut
  • Like the previous clips, throughout the interview when the subject makes reference to sounds from their childhood the listening audience will hear those sounds as well

Clip 9

  • The final clip will be a short narration that will serve as a wrap up for the audio as a whole
  • We will take note of the similarities and differences seen in these different soundscapes, as well as how each soundscape can easily be remembered by its audience – even though time has passed and some even have moved locations

Classwork 3/28

If sound (through vibration) is also touch, how might that expand your understanding of a soundscape?

If sound (through vibration) is also touch then I think one would have to consider how sound influences the other senses in a soundscape. It would also mean that certain sounds can cause two different vibration patterns depending on the environment in which the sound was made. For example, a car driving by might have a different vibration in the city than in a rural area. When looking at a soundscape it would be important to see how the sound interacts with its environment. Listening or feeling the difference between a car driving in the city and a car driving in a rural area can provide a lot more insight on the soundscape, as opposed to just noticing that a car is heard in both environments.

Describe a time when you experienced a heightened moment of multi-sensorial emplacement, as in a moment where your sense of smell, hearing, touch, or sight were raised in response to a particular situation.

Due to the fact that I have anxiety, I experience this feeling quite often, mostly during panic attacks. For example, when I was younger I would have anxiety about being home alone because I had a fear that someone was going to break into my house. Whenever I was left home alone it was like my ears were on constant alert. I heard every squeak in the house, and I probably even heard sounds that weren’t even real. Because of the situation and my anxiety I definitely felt as if my sense of hearing was heightened.


Class Work from 3/26

What voices stood out to you and why? 

A stereotypical voice that stands out to me would be the voices of game show hosts. Every game show host has a very over the top sort of tone and sound to their voice. I think if someone tells you to think of what a game show host sounds like you can instantly think of voices like Bob Barker from the Price is Right. I also thought specifically of Morgan Freeman. He has a voice that is known by everyone whenever you hear it. His voice is so popular he’s been asked to voice things like Planet Earth. He has a very informative and soothing tone that makes him actually enjoyable to listen to.

What does it mean to listen through place and not just to it? 

I thinking listening through place is listening for how the sound interacts with different factors, such as your own personal perspective or the significance of those sounds. If you grow up in the city and move to a rural area you might more readily recognize the sound of cars over the sound of birds just because you are used to those sounds.

Consider a cause related to social justice that could be approached through sound. What would you do? How would you capture the sound? How would the sound contribute to the cause or issue you selected? 

The issue I would choose to approach using sound would be recent views on immigration. I would record sounds of individuals who are both born in America and individuals who either immigrated here or are refugees. I would gather sounds that showcase how nonthreatening and alike the two groups are. For example, I could have audio from two different families, one family born in America and one family who immigrated here. The sounds could be of children laughing or sounds of a family dinner. I think capturing the sounds of the people would displace the myth that being an American means looking white or that it means you have to be born here. When people listen to the sounds of a refugee family and recognize those sounds as something they’re familiar with then hopefully they would realize that these refugees are not some foreign threat, and that living and succeeding in this country is not reserved for just those who are born here.

Sound Memoir Final Project

Link to my Sound Memoir:

Link to my model for the project:

*Note: Like the model, I wanted the focal point of my project to be the sounds of the situations, but unlike the model I added narration to describe the feelings and/or location of the sounds

Katelyn Cavagna

English 320

Professor Brooks

26 March 2018

Sound Memoir Reflection

     For my Sound Memoir Project I originally chose to focus on capturing sounds associated with a family trip I was taking to West Palm Beach, Florida. However, when I was preparing for my flight I realized I could take a more personal angle than just showcasing the sounds of travel. Instead, I chose to focus on telling a story of my anxiety while flying. In choosing this topic as the focal point of my sound memoir I was able to distinguish which sounds enhance my anxiety while flying and which sounds put my anxiety at ease. I was also able to tell which sounds I make to purposefully try to quell my anxiety. Overall, this project allowed me to see just how much sound affects my mental state, as well as how much my mental state affects my hearing.

     In preparing for the flight, I thought about all of the different scenes that I could record that would be an audio representations of travel. I recorded packing my luggage, going through security, boarding the plane, the flight itself, and landing in West Palm Beach. The flight was only around 2 hours, but the total amount of audio I recorded was around 1 hour. While weeding through the clips I noticed some audio that, when I heard it, gave me the same feelings as when I had heard it originally. For instance, the most noticeable one was the sound of the seatbelt light turning on during the flight. When I hear this sound during the flight I normally begin to get anxious because hearing the seat belt sign usually is a sign of turbulence. When I heard the sound in the audio recording that I had taken I began to remember, and feel, that same sense of nervousness. For me, a lot of the audio recordings I took elicited the same emotions that I had when I originally took the recording. It was interesting to note this from my own experience because I had remembered this idea being discussed in the introduction of The Auditory Culture Reader.

      After realizing this connection between my anxiety and sound, I scanned the rest of the audio for more of these situations. I quickly noticed a few other instances where I could remember, or still felt, the emotions I had during that time when the audio took place. I then decided to compile these recordings and use narration to guide the listener through a typical plane ride through the ears of someone who gets anxiety from flying.

     Once I had the theme and the audio I needed the next step was to edit the audio clips to match the sound memoir that I had imagined in my head. The editing process was a little more difficult than I had intended. The ideas I had in my head did not transfer into a physical recording as easily as I had hoped. I had to do a lot of sound layering in order to get the sound that I wanted. For instance, in one of my recordings I wanted to show how I chewed gum during the plane’s takeoff as a way to ease some anxiety. In my original recording you could not hear my gum chewing so I had to record that separately and then layer that clip on top of the clip of the plane taking off. I also had to add some effects to some of the audio clips to get the feeling that I wanted. For example, when the plan was taking off I sped up some of the audio to get a better representation of the building intensity and speed of the plane, which in turn would lead to a better representation of the building anticipation and nervousness. Overall, the process for compiling and editing the audio into one fluid story required more attention to detail than I had originally anticipated.

      Once the final editing process was complete I listened to the final recording and realized I had discovered a lot about how sound affects my anxiety, and vice versa. For instance, I think my anxiety makes me more aware of small sounds, and places more meaning to certain sounds. Also, I realized certain sounds have the ability to either cause or erase my anxiety. For example, the sound of turbulence and the sound of the flight attendant’s voice coming over the intercom is always a signal for me that something is wrong. However, hearing the conversations of those around me who are laughing or don’t seem bothered by the turbulence seems to put me at ease. Overall, I think this project made me learn more about how I interpret sound in terms of my anxiety, and just how influential sound can be for those with anxiety.




  • Clip 1
    • Description: at the airport
    • Dialogue: “I find myself in line at the airport waiting to get through security. I listen to everyone’s conversation around me and try to decipher whether they’re traveling for business or pleasure.”
    • “Then I hear the familiar sounds of people hurrying to put their stuff in those grey plastic tubs and send them through the machine. They all wait to hear the same beep that means they’ve been cleared.”
  • Clip 2
    • Description: getting on board the plane, finding a seat, and clicking my seat belt
    • Dialogue:
    • “I board the plane and shuffle past the seated passengers.”
    • “I make my way to my seat and strap my seat belt tight around my waist. The sound of the seatbelt clicking fills me with a false sense of hope. Like somehow the small cloth strap will save me if I fall 25,000 feet”
  • Clip 3
    • Description: Plane takes off and chewing gum
    • Dialogue: “I hear the flight attendants giving the same worn out speech about the oxygen masks and safety exits. But I still listen attentively just in case something happens.”
    • “I hear the plane’s engines grow louder and louder as we speed down the runway. I pop a piece of gum in my mouth so my ears don’t hurt from the altitude. The faster we go, the louder my chewing gets.”
  • Clip 4
    • Description: Turbulence and seat belt sound
    • Dialogue: “We climb higher and higher in the sky until the pilot finally reaches his desired altitude. But the roar of the plane’s engines never dies down. I feel the plane shake in the air. //I hear the sound of the seatbelt sign ding, only confirming my fears. Everyone must remain seated with their seat belt on due to the turbulence.”
  • Clip 5
    • Description: hearing sounds of other people being unworried
    • Dialogue: “I hear the nonchalant conversations around me; the small talk just to pass the time. The noise of people’s trivial conversations keep me at ease. If no one else was worried, I guess I shouldn’t be either.
  • Clip 6
    • Description: plan landing
    • Dialogue: “Two hours pass by and I hear the flight attendant’s voice come back on over the speakers. We’ve made it to our destination.”


Group Project Proposal

For the group project, Group 1 and I would like to study how different areas around the world create different sounds. We would like to interview five different people from different parts of the world. So far, these are the questions we will be asking:

  • What sounds did you hear growing up?
  • Where are you from?
  • What sounds do you think are unique to your hometown?
  • If you could give three words to describe the sound of your hometown, what would they be?
  • Is there a song, tv show, or movie that reminds you of where you’re from?

By asking these questions, we hope to capture what makes different areas sonically unique. We also hope to capture the different dialects or accents that can be found across the world, however, this element will not be discussed during the interview. We hope that the listeners of our finished production will merely be able to see the differences in the dialects.

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