Washington, D.C.


I arrived in Washington on Sept. 20th, 2010 at Union Station. The first track below is what I heard as soon as I got off the Amtrak train: a nearby train was letting off rhythmic steam. The second track is the subway escalator, which also had a nice beat going. Washington grooves.


I spent a good deal of time walking around the National Mall and seeing the monuments and going to the Smithsonians. Washington is a city of lots of cool, free things to do. Below are the colliding bells of St. John’s Lafayette Square “Church of the Presidents” near the White House, and the chimes of the “Third Church of Christ, Scientist”. It was 11am.

At the Washington Monument, the most prevalent sound was the flags flapping and the wires clattering against the poles.

I wandered to the Potomac River and had a snooze. But I happened to be in the flight path for all flights descending into one of the major airports in the area. I stayed put for one hour, and counted the number of aircraft I could see and hear taking off and landing. There were 41, which works out to roughly one every minute-and-a-half. There were also lots of choppers flying back and forth, from the Pentagon I learnt. Here is a small snippet of the riverside. When the planes were done buzzing and roaring, I could hear the weeping willow and the waves.

My favorite discovery in Washington was in a hollow tree near the Reflecting Pool. I passed nearby, heard sounds and stuck the H4n in for a few minutes. What are they? Any thoughts? I imagine Jim Henson creatures conversing.

On the ground within the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. There is a fountain in the middle of the open area inside the circular museum, with several large pillars holding up the upper floors of the building. I walked from behind one pillar, all the way around the fountain and behind another pillar. If you listen closely with good speakers or headphones, you will hear that I keep the fountain (sounding like white noise) on my left for the whole time, but as I pass the columns, sonic ‘reflections’ occur and the sound seems to bounce and travel.

Here is the sound of the subway in Washington. This is quite a long clip, but it gives you a sense of the patterns that go on.

Here is an escalator singing in D.C. at the Fort Totten subway station. I think it has a bird or an oboist stuck underneath. In this track, I ride the escalator, and board the train.

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