Starbucks Coffee Shop at 3pm on 09/24/13

Location – Starbucks at 7077 Bathurst Street

Date – September 24th 2013 at 3:30 pm


–       Banging (door opening and closing)

–       Blending (from blender)

–       Clinking (dishes)

–       Voices (singing and speaking)

–       Footsteps (walking)

–       Beeping (machines turning on and off)

–       Crinkling (of paper)

–       Jiggling (of keys)

–       Squeaking (of door)

–       Chewing

–       Spraying (cleaning products)

–       Running water

Describe the sounds in detail. Again, not just what made the sounds but the frequency, pitch, volume, duration, tone, and timbre of the sounds?

Sitting in the Starbucks Coffee Shop, I heard many different sounds. One that I heard repetitively was the sound of the door opening and closing. I would describe this banging sound as ‘flat’, since it was rather unnoticeable. In other words, only when I began to truly focus on the sounds around me, could I hear this noise. Furthermore, I would say that the sound was low pitched and quiet, due to the fact that I was sitting further away from the door.

The next sound I heard was a blending noise, and even though I was nowhere near the counter, I could hear the blender, as though I was standing beside it. Thus, I concluded, that besides being loud in volume, the sound was also high in pitch. It could be described as ‘noisy’, since every time it occurred, which was repetitively, it echoed through the entire shop, regardless of where you were seated.

 Another sound I heard, repetitively, were beeping noises, from various machines. Again, while this sound was far from me, it was very high pitched, and therefore, loud in volume. Furthermore, I am inclined to describe this sound as ‘noisy’ or  ‘unpleasant’, in that every time it occurred, it would completely interrupt my thought process.

 A noise I heard continuously while drinking my coffee was the sound of voices. Most of the people that were sitting in my vicinity in Starbucks, at the time that I was recording these sounds, were on their laptops. Hence, a quieter atmosphere was created, which encouraged the various people chit chatting, to speak quietly, as well.  In this sense, I would describe the voices as being low pitched and ‘soft’.

Footsteps were another sound I heard continuously throughout my duration in the coffee shop. Since people were walking further and closer to where I was seated, the volume of the sound changed often. For instance, when a person would walk toward my table, I could hear their footsteps a lot more clearly than a person walking away from my table. Thus, the proximity varied from close, to far, and vice versa. Generally, the footsteps were, quite, in that people were aware of the quiet atmosphere of the shop. Moreover, I would describe the footsteps to be low pitched and ‘soft’. Nobody, as far as I was aware of, had been wearing high heels or shoes that would create high-pitched sounds as they walked.

Lastly, a sound that I heard only once, and therefore was completely unique, was the sound of running water. This was a very quiet and low-pitched noise, which I heard only since I was listening so intently. It was coming from behind the counter, which was far from where I was sitting. Moreover, if I were to describe this sound I would say that it was ‘pure’.

What kind of sounds are these? What do these sounds say about the place where you heard them? What is their meaning?

Interestingly, most of the sounds that I heard would be categorized as ‘technological’. For instance, there was the banging of the door, the blending from the blending machine and the beeping from the coffee machines. As for the voices and footsteps, they were obviously ‘human’ sounds, whereas the running water was a ‘natural’ sound.

These sounds indicate that I was clearly not sitting outside while writing this assignment. I am able to come to this conclusion in that if I had been sitting outside of a coffee shop, I would have heard a lot more ‘natural’ sounds, such as, birds chirping and trees rustling. Moreover, the sounds that I recorded indicate that I was in a busy and lively place. This is evident in that voices and footsteps were continuously heard throughout the duration. In other words, there was not a single moment where people were not walking in and out of the coffee shop, or were not talking to one other, while drinking their coffee. It is a communal place where people come to relax and enjoy themselves.

What would you call the ‘keynote’? Are there any ‘soundmarks’ in your experience?

If I had to pick the ‘keynote’ that I would associate with my time at Starbucks Coffee Shop, I would have to choose the sound of the coffee machines, brewing the coffee. My justification for choosing the coffee machines over everything else is that it best symbolizes the purpose of the shop, and why it is so lively. If I were to say that the keynote was the sound of the voices and footsteps that were continuously heard, it would be too general, in that it could represent almost any public place. Evidently, once you hear the sound of a coffee machine repeatedly going off, you know that you are definitely in a coffee shop.

As far as ‘soundmarks’ are concerned, I would say that the jazz music is unique to Starbuck coffee shops. In other words, the jazz music differentiates Starbucks from any other coffee shop in that you will only hear that type of music there. For instance, when I walk into Tim Hortons I do not hear jazz music, instead, I hear pop or rap music.   

Does the place where you heard them matter to their meaning?

Yes, hearing jazz music playing in the background matters to the meaning of the Starbucks coffee shop in that it provokes a feeling of relaxation in the customers, unlike pop or rap music. Moreover, if music was not playing in the background, or people were not constantly talking, the coffee shop might transform itself into the atmosphere of a library. This is a distinct possibility in that people often come to coffee shops to study and read. As well, the sound of the coffee machines is a constant reminder of where we are, and why we have come there, in the first place.