Matt Gilbert

Room Tone Studies

For any room, there are certain sound frequencies that resonate better than others. You can find these frequencies by playing a sound in a room, recording it, playing the recording back into the room, recording that, and so on. Eventually the resonant frequencies will overwhelm all the others. Lucas Martin and I performed this experiment in several places down a hallway at the Art Center College of Design. Using the tones we found, I composed a short video.

The composer Alvin Lucier used a similar method in "I am sitting in a room". I wanted to perform the experiment faster, with shorter sounds, so that the resonant frequencies could be discovered quicker. I snapped into a microphone, then the sound was delayed about a half second before being played back into the room. Then, by composing from the recordings, I could compare them and show how much they differed.

Here's my first stab at composing this stuff. The audio in this file is really quiet, especially the lower tones.

roomTones_1.jpg roomTones_2.jpg