The Affective Quality of Kitchen Sounds

Field recordings often focus on the exterior, the exotic. However some of the most emotionally affecting sounds reside within our domestic spaces. Depending on its source the sounds of the kitchen can inspire warm feelings of communality or conversely a sense of drudgery.

The Espresso Pot:

Listening to the steady crescendo of steam escaping from an espresso pot is one of the best ways to start a day. In the stillness of the morning the sounds of this device ease us back into a state of consciousness. Throughout the remainder of the day the whistle of the espresso pot signals a reprieve from the mundane, leading us to anticipate a moment that can be shared with others.

The Grill:

In the dim morning light the grill’s blue flame sits in harmony with the hiss of gas and its expanding metal frame. These sounds accentuate a sense of domesticity, shielding us from the growing awareness that we must soon leave this space to enter the commercial arena.

The Refrigerator:

The fridge is one of the kitchen’s most central features. Its motor dominates the space throughout the day, creating a room tone which serves as a sonic-fingerprint for each house. During periods of insomnia the sound of the fridge can reach irritating levels, while during the day its relentlessness can be mentally draining.

The Frying Pan:

The sound of frying oil is crisp and sharp, just like fried-food itself. Unlike fried-food, listening to the sound of frying oil isn’t detrimental to our health. This sound is often accompanied with feelings of guilt and pleasure.

The Kitchen Sink:

After the pleasure of cooking and eating comes the cleaning. A very satisfying sound related to this process is the popping of detergent suds in the sink after washing the dishes. This signals that the day’s work is at an end. Hopefully a glass of wine will be near at hand to complete the day.

The Dishwasher:

The sound of luxury. Like farmers first hearing tractors in the industrial revolution, the sound of the dishwasher signifies an escape from domestic toil. The electrical whirr of the motor combined with the contained splashes of water are pleasant to listen to while falling asleep at night. There will be fresh coffee cups for an early morning start.

4 thoughts on “The Affective Quality of Kitchen Sounds

    1. Thanks – most of my sound editing and writing is done at the kitchen table so it’s hard to escape them. There could be an element of hyperacusis in my relationship with the sounds from the fridge.


  1. You missed out my favourite sound of all: the extractor fan, or rather the extractor fan finishing, marking the end of the frenetic noisy activity of cooking and the ensuing reverential calm of eating 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s