The worldwide culture of pleasure and leisure has not always existed. People have always done things for fun, but up until the mid-19th century, most people spent the vast majority of their time working. British industrialization began the five day work week, extending Sunday’s day of rest to include Saturday, creating the weekend. The weekend not only allowed people to spend time the way the wanted, but allowed many new industries to spring up. People often spent their free time at the theatre, purchasing pleasurable items, or flocking to stadiums for sporting events.Thus, the lifestyle of millions around the world drastically changed in a relatively short time period. With this change came a whole new soundscape. From the sounds of ping pong to Gilmore Girls, the ways in which we take pleasure are often an integral part of who we are. Particularly at Oberlin College, while the academic work that people do is very important, everyone is multifaceted and is interested in many things outside their school work.
Oberlin has long been known as a progressive institution, and that progressive spirit still exists today. The student body is often looked upon as ‘quirky’ ‘artsy’ or ‘hipster’ from an outsider’s perspective, that insight is not entirely wrong. Obies like to march to the beat of their own drum and like to do things outside of the norm. Therefore, their leisurely activities are not always the usual college activities. For example, students often have very strong, liberal opinions when it comes to politics, and these views often are often rendered into action, such as campaigning and protesting. A big part of Oberlin College is the campus music scene. Although the conservatory is known for an intense, world-class experience, even non-conservatory kids get into the act of creating, with countless bands and groups to join. However, at the end of the day, one can find the same kinds of fun activities that one would find at any other college. They like to unwind by hanging out with friends, watching TV, and playing video games.
Leisure activities on the Oberlin campus can include almost anything. With an active student body the students find many ways to engage themselves in their free time–sports, music, art, etc. While each activity may seem drastically different, that is what makes leisure activities unique, they can be anything as long as it is done for fun or to unwind. The batting cage shows the athletic nature of the student body, while the potter’s wheel demonstrates the artistic side. The conversations over videogames, friends singing, laughter, laptop noises, and the ping pong sounds show the hobbies that take place in the dorms. The bike co-op and the dance club (the ‘Sco) display the activeside of the students, showing leisure life outside of a typical setting. While each has its own setting associated with it, the sounds collected come together under the term leisure, depicting how Oberlin students unwind.
I recorded this sound while I was hanging out with my friends. Laughter is a sound that usually means someone’s in a good mood, at least for a moment. Laughter is said to be the best medicine and while it might not be as powerful as penicillin, it certainly has its benefits. Laughter relaxes the whole body, boosts the immune system, and triggers the release of endorphins. This particular laughter is the sound of four friends laughing together while watching a funny YouTube video, specifically a video from the show Billy On The Street which featured Amy Poehler running down the streets of New York City, trying to trick people into believing she was Pitbull. In the about ten years of its existence, YouTube has managed to transform the way we think of and consume media. Not only can one see clips or wholes of television shows, movies, and other media, but YouTube provides a platform for its users to generate their own content.
The very distinct sound of ping pong is produced when the ping pong ball comes into contact with the paddle. The ping pong ball is made out of plastic, and is very light and hollow. Upon coming into contact with the wood and rubber paddle, a very short and high pitched noise is produced. The game was invented in Britain during the 19th century, and slowly became popular in other countries. During the Chinese Civil War, the game became popular amongst the communist forces; thus the game was introduced to China, where it remains very popular today. The frequency of the sound often changes with the experience and skill of the players. Often, if the frequency that the sound is made is high, more skilled players, who are able to maintain a faster play of game are playing.
The sound of the potter's wheel is produced by the motor contained under the wheel head. As the wheel is accelerated and decelerated by the foot pedal, the humming sound increases and decreases in pitch. Water is also applied to the clay, causing the slippery sound that is produced. The art of throwing on the wheel is very old, beginning around 4,500 BCE in the Near East, with potters slowly turning a large stone wheel with their feet. For many, the sound becomes part of the background white noise. However, the sound remains closely tied with the art, and is even an important rotation speed indicator for the potter
The sounds of a bike shop often vary, depending on who is present and what parts of a bike is being worked on. Many of the sounds are produced by metal hitting metal. Wrenches of many types, cables, and screwdrivers are often heard hitting each other, or coming into contact with the bike. Some sounds are lower, which are often made by large metal objects, and some are higher, like when a small wrench falls to the ground. This clip features the sounds of a rear derailleur being adjusted; the wheels are spun by hand, while the gears are shifted to ensure their functionality. Meanwhile, Mozart's Symphony 31 is playing in the background from a tape cassette. Interestingly, all of these aspects are fairly antiquated, and have been replaced, modified, or improved since their invention. Bikes have been around since the early 19th century, and have been vastly improved, and largely replaced by many motor vehicles. Tape cassettes have been replaced by CDs, followed by digital audio files. No one would ever claim that Mozart has been replaced, but his music is quite old, and fits nicely with the antiquated atmosphere of the bike shop.
This sound was recorded as I was leisurely surfing the Internet. It is a hard, industrial sound. It is also a sound of privilege, as Mac computers are especially pricy, and computers are expensive to begin with. The sound is made when one presses keys on the laptop or clicks on the mouse pad. What is interesting about this sound is that it is pretty much impossible to distinguish between when someone is laboring and typing a paper versus when someone is having fun on his or her computer, so this sound could also be a sound of labor.
This sound was recorded during a night of hanging out with friends and watching the TV show Gilmore Girls on Netflix. Gilmore Girls was a popular comedy-drama show that ran for 7 years. In September, it was announced that the whole series was coming to Netflix. This was met with a lot of Internet commotion and excitement, as the show can only be found occasionally on TV or very expensive boxed DVD sets. Many people began to binge watch. The theme song to the show is “Where You Lead” originally written by Carole King for her album Tapestry. The song was later re-recorded specifically for the show, with the addition of King’s daughter accompanying her on vocals, fitting because a major theme of the show is mother-daughter relationships. The theme song is especially powerful because the lyrics deal with friendship, so it is special to thing out loud with friends. It’s fun but also the lyrics act as statement to each other, making the song a bonding mechanism.
This sound was recorded during varsity softball batting practice. Batting is a great way to blow off steam while practicing for games. The sound recorded is a ball being hit off of a tee, which is used to practice form. The sound contains the initial impact of the composite bat on the ball, and a louder sound as the ball hit the rubber screen. There is a large echo reflecting the high ceiling of the indoor gymnasium. Batting cages have been used as an indoor resource for baseball and softball players for years. When it is too cold or wet to use a dirt field, players can go indoors to practice their form and take some rips. Sports have long been a leisurely activity. Children play sports for recreation and as a way to stay active. Although collegiate athletics are more than just a game for fun, athletes still participate as a way to practice a fun game and let loose.
Dancing has been an activity of leisure for centuries. It has been a way for young girls to meet potential suiters, an important form of self-expression, and a way to have a fun night out with friends. This particular sound is from a night at the Dionysus Disco, or as true Obies call it, The 'Sco. The 'Sco is a dance club on campus that features many live bands and DJs. This recording was taken during a night when a DJ was performing and features people cheering, singing, the DJ making a request to "turn up," and a group of friends talking about where their friend got "that." The overall feeling of the recording reflects the lighthearted atmosphere of college students decompressing after a long week.
Playing video games is a favorite activity for many people. In this recording a group of friends play video games and comment to each other about the games. While the actual game sounds are not quite audible, the overall feeling of the game can be gaged by the reactions of the friends. The recording was taken at night in a dorm room, reflecting the way students relax after finishing their work. After a long day of classes and homework, friends congregate in a room to hang out and play games. The communal aspect of the game is reflected through the many voices, although each person plays as their own character. The players interact online; however, they comment out loud about their frustrations and accomplishment, bringing the game into reality.