There’s always that negative stereotype of New Yorkers: they’re all loudmouths who yell at you instead of talking in a moderate, even, “indoor voice.” I always thought this stereotype might have emerged from the idea that New Yorkers had more attitude or are more “in your face” than other people.
Nope. Now that I’ve lived here for 2 months, I know now why many New Yorkers are well-trained in the art of yelling and have little concept of speaking in a normal tone sometimes: NEW YORK IS FREAKIN’ LOUD!!!!
From the buses to the honks of taxi horns to the squeal of subway brakes, the noise of New York is truly an amazing thing to experience. Even walking down the street, I can’t hear the voice of the person on the other end of my cell phone very well. Many a time, I will just stop in the middle of my conversation with my husband as a whole series of car honks explode in the street next to us. (By the way, why do drivers here insist on honking their horns for no good reason???) It’s a bit distressing because I want to make my career off of my voice, and I can’t very well risk hurting my voice or creating nodes by getting into the habit of yelling over the sound. It’s why I hate going into a club or restaurant with loud music when I have an audition or rehearsal or performance the next day – when invited to these environments, I usually sit in silence or try to communicate via gesture. No, when I scream, I want it to be on the falling side of a rollercoaster or during the recording session/ADR of a horror movie.
Back to NY: It’s no wonder that the parks in this city (especially Central Park) are so revered and well kept. Walk to the center of Central Park, and you can barely hear the roar of the city beyond the trees. These parks provide such a well-needed audio respite from the screetches and rhhhum rhuums and breeeeeeeeek that makes up the daily soundscape of the city of New York.
This 2006 study I found just now notes how hearing loss has been connected to the subway system here in NY. The article also points out that wearing headphones at high volume (which one has to do when the subway is too loud to listen to one’s music or podcasts on a regular volume) can lead to hearing loss. Made me want to go out and buy those &#%$@ SkullCandy noise-cancelling headphones that my hubby has. There are a lot of tenant rights and noise codes
that are midly enforced throughout the city around residential neighborhoods too. Coincidentally, today I saw a woman put earplugs in her ears as she traveled through about 5 stops with me.
But it also could have been the fact that a 1 1/2 year old baby started to have a screaming fit on the other side of the car.
I wonder if New Yorker babies have naturally louder vocal prowess than other babies. Can someone start a new study, please?