Tranquil sounds or incessant tinkering?
September 29, 2005 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Wind chimes in an apartment complex: okay, or ignorant?

I just bought these great wind chimes on eBay and have really been looking forward to hanging them outside my window now that I've got them opened up for autumn. But as soon as I took them out of the package my roommate's eyes bulged out of his skull and he frantically told me that I couldn't hang them up around here, since we live so close to other people. I thought he was overreacting, but agreed to mute the chimes for the time being by padding the central wooden block.

I had wind chimes at a different apartment complex I lived in and never received any complaints, but I suppose my neighbors just might have been too timid to come forward. What do you think: is it okay to hang them up, or should I keep them muted? I noticed that one of my other neighbors has chimes, but she has the wooden kind while I have aluminum, and aluminum are somewhat louder.
posted by ducksauce to Society & Culture (41 answers total)
Plain and simple: it's rude. Constant noise like that when living in extremely close proximity to others is typically always a bad ideal.
posted by hummus at 6:48 AM on September 29, 2005

If you can hear them, they can hear them. Which is fine if they like them, but not fine if they don't. And in the interests of not making a scene, many people will not tell you that they don't. So ask first, at least all of the units immediately around yours, but do a small test during the day to see how far the sound carries, and ask anyone in range. If no one objects, then hang them, if anybody does, then don't.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:49 AM on September 29, 2005

Please, don't.
posted by majick at 6:51 AM on September 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

Give the chimes to your mother or whoever you might know who lives in a standalone dwelling out of earshot of other homes. Because I have heard the chimes at midnight and it's not all it's cracked up to be.
posted by pracowity at 7:01 AM on September 29, 2005

Ignorant. I'm astonished you even need to ask the question. Next.
posted by Decani at 7:01 AM on September 29, 2005

Agreed, don't. My neighbor who was NEVER AROUND to talk to had wind chimes on her balcony, and short of tearing them down in her absence, there was not much we could do (and even at my angriest I don't want to ruin someone else's stuff).

I had windchimes I love and I hung them up inside my apartment in front of a window. They didn't chime unless my cats batted at them, but I bought them because they were beautiful to look at, not so much because of their sound. Is there someplace inside you could hang them?
posted by catfood at 7:02 AM on September 29, 2005

Hang them on the inside of your unit, near the window. Then you don't have to ask anybody -- except maybe your roommate.

But if you do hang them outside...
Since you are a considerate person, I know you will do what no one ever remembers to do (um, including me) -- when bad weather is predicted, take them down so they don't jangle everyone awake at 3 in the morning.
posted by Methylviolet at 7:05 AM on September 29, 2005

posted by Methylviolet at 7:07 AM on September 29, 2005

Well, wind chimes really come in all shapes and sizes, from 3-inch tinkly things to 3-foot bells. We used to have some of the larger ones when we lived out in the country, but moving to the suburbs we decided to keep them boxed out of respect for the neighbors. But man, in apartments, I don't think any wind chimes are a good idea. Not only are the neighbors in close proximity, but apartments tend to have a lot of shift workers who depend on good sleep.
posted by rolypolyman at 7:15 AM on September 29, 2005

Don't do it. It doesn't matter what the size is. They will at some point annoy everyone who can hear them, including you. You'll have the luxury of being able to silence them. The people living around you won't.
posted by jaysus chris at 7:23 AM on September 29, 2005

I'm surprised by the highly negative reaction to this issue. I'm not a wind-chime fan, and I don't particularly like their sound, but I wouldn't begrudge someone else hanging some within my earshot. It's about personal expression, which can and should be done with sound as well as visual stuff.

If there is a legitimate reason for them causing an anti-social noise (old people nearby, young children etc.) then perhaps don't hang them. And if someone complains, you should take them down. But crikey - people should be more tolerant of each others' pursuits.
posted by pollystark at 7:29 AM on September 29, 2005

polly - have you ever lived nextdoor to someone who had windchimes, and tried to sleep in on a breezy morning? because it doesn't sound like it.
posted by catfood at 7:34 AM on September 29, 2005

It's about personal expression, which can and should be done with sound as well as visual stuff.

If I don't like your visual personal expression, I can simply close my curtains. Your audible personal expression is a lot harder to shut out. A better visual analogy would be not something like a flag, or flowers, but a strobe light that was a) bright enough to be seen through other people's curtains/blinds, and b) kept on at all hours of the night.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:36 AM on September 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

Yeah. Our next door neighbours had some and they would clink ALL the time. I didn't really like them, but it never occurred to me that the neighbours should take them down. It's their (sound) space as much as it is mine.

I must say I can't bear this mustn't-disturb-anyone-else mentality. If I want to play guitar so that people in the flat above and below can hear it, if they are tolerant they will let me get on with it. In the same way, if the guy upstairs wants to put on Coldplay at 2am and sing along at the top of his voice on a weekend, I'll let him get on with it - he's having fun, so why not?
posted by pollystark at 7:40 AM on September 29, 2005

I'm not a wind-chime fan, and I don't particularly like their sound, but I wouldn't begrudge someone else hanging some within my earshot.

Well, I kind of like the sound of wind chimes, but I'd certainly begrudge anyone who assumed I wanted to hear them all the time.

But crikey - people should be more tolerant of each others' pursuits.

Which starts from a position of creating a reasonably minimal amount of noise when you live in an apartment complex. I applaud your tolerance, but this is really a lowest-common-denominator situation. If the answer to "could this bother anyone at all?" is "yes", I think you'd need to take the gracious path and err on the side of silence.
posted by jalexei at 7:40 AM on September 29, 2005

Talk to your neighbors and get their opinion. If a single person says no, don't do it. Lots of people say, "that's apartment living", but people can be considerate too.

Personally, I love the fact that all of my neighbors have wind chimes.
posted by zerokey at 7:42 AM on September 29, 2005

It sounds to me like your roomate might be one of those people who are bothered by windchimes. I'd ask him about his preferences first, before the neighbors.
posted by Morrigan at 7:52 AM on September 29, 2005

As someone who once suffered from the random tinkles and gongs of wind chimes at all hours of the day and night for close to six months, I appreciate your question.

One man's peaceful ringing is another's incessant clanging. Please and thank you: hang them inside your apartment next to a window.
posted by CMichaelCook at 7:55 AM on September 29, 2005

pollystark, that's my frame of mind, too, which is why I asked this question. My neighbors play loud music all the time, almost always stuff I don't like, but it would never even occur to me to ask them to stop -- I know we all have to live together and some hobbies generate noise -- it's just the sounds of many lives intertwining.

But I do understand that not everyone feels this way, and that I should be considerate of my neighbors wishes (except my one neighbor who threw a garbage bag at my roommate). After reading these responses, I think I'll take a multiple stepped approach:

1. ask my neighbors how they feel. If they like the chimes, too, I don't have a problem.
2. If I get lukewarm or negative responses I'll hang them inside my window as Methylviolet suggested, or at least redirect and mute the sound.

Thanks for all the constructive answers (both positive and negative).
posted by ducksauce at 7:57 AM on September 29, 2005

have you ever lived nextdoor to someone who had windchimes, and tried to sleep in on a breezy morning? because it doesn't sound like it.

Yep. Don't mind a bit. Most of my neighbors have windchimes. It's typical where I live. Look around for a clue as to the common culture. Do other people (besides the one neighbor) have windchimes?
posted by desuetude at 8:01 AM on September 29, 2005

But crikey - people should be more tolerant of each others' pursuits.

But what if your pursuits are meditation, or home audio recording, or house-of-cards building? There are many different pursuits that cannot peacefully co-exist which is why many apartment leases have "quiet times" written in to them and why many communities have noise ordinanaces. A lot of it just has to do with community standards and what people expect. If other people have windchimes in your apartment complex, it's likely not going to be a problem if yours are out [though I'd say bringing them in on really windy days is considerate]. If yours are the first set to go up, I'd be a bit more proactive in seeing if they're going to bug people.
posted by jessamyn at 8:15 AM on September 29, 2005

desuetude, I haven't checked yet. I'll take a stroll around the properties tonight and see what I hear, unless the thunderstorms refuse to pass. By the way, I've always loved your username.
posted by ducksauce at 8:18 AM on September 29, 2005

Ah, good point jessamyn, but you're talking about a slightly different issue. The question was about whether the chimes (and, latterly, any avoidable noise) would be annoying. I said that people who are annoyed may be justified, or they may be intolerant. However, one person's past-time being affected by another is a different issue. In this case, it's about working out mututally agreeable guidelines between two individuals, rather than a blanket policy for all people. So, 'I like to meditate between 6pm and 7pm, so would you mind not playing your guitar during that time', would be a totally reasonable example of this.
posted by pollystark at 8:23 AM on September 29, 2005

Chimes are noise - pleasant noise to you, unpleasant to others. I'm neither a kid or an old person, and I resent their tinkly little noise. It does not relax me, rather it feels like an irritating imposition.

It is imprudent to compare chimes to playing Coldplay at 2am and singing along, because the 2am guy will eventually stop.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:41 AM on September 29, 2005

my downstairs neighbor just got wind chimes ... i guess i'm ok with it ... it's not as annoying as the sirens, the harleys and the occaisional drunks who aren't getting along ... not to mention the big BOOM of passing cars playing rap music too loud
posted by pyramid termite at 8:43 AM on September 29, 2005

Wow, I wonder if all these people who are so torqued up about windchimes to the point of answering in a rude way (yeah, I'm lookin at you Decani) stand outside by the rustling trees and scream "SHUTUP!!!"

Not all chimes are created equal. The ones that create loud very high pitched noises are irksome but I've heard plenty that were also not notably different from the afformentioned trees. Only you know what they sound like and how close you are to others. Can the mute you put on that block come on and off easily enough so you can enjoy them in the day hours when you have as much right as anyone else to enjoy things others can year?
posted by phearlez at 8:48 AM on September 29, 2005

It's about personal expression

No, it's about good civics. We do not have the right to let our "personal expression" piss our neighbours off. What if I demand that my "personal expression" must involve playing loud electric guitar at 3:00 am because that's the only time my artistic soul is truly inspired?

You live in a community, you respect other people's space and other people's rights. You don't like that, go be a hermit. I find the sound of wind chimes incredibly annoying. Almost as annoying as cellphone ringtones. If anyone near me had those damned things within earshot I'd be constantly wrestling with the urge to jam them somewhere soft and tight enough to have a significant damping effect. What bugs me doesn't necessarily bug you, and vice versa. But we err on the side of caution, thanks.
posted by Decani at 8:52 AM on September 29, 2005

Wow, I wonder if all these people who are so torqued up about windchimes to the point of answering in a rude way (yeah, I'm lookin at you Decani) stand outside by the rustling trees and scream "SHUTUP!!!"

That is an absurd remark and an absurd comparison. I assume I don't need to explain why.
posted by Decani at 8:54 AM on September 29, 2005

There was a clause in my lease that forbade the use of barbeques on balconies, as well as windchimes, large flags and hanging plants (like ivies - not like pots). Anything that could encroach on another tenets space. Personally, I totally agree. Just because you live in a place surrounded by people doesn't mean that you have to surround yourself in the effluent of their lives. I dislike metal windchimes and had listen to them constantly in my old apt (which had no such clause in the lease) and was incredibly thankful that the new apt did not allow them.
posted by LunaticFringe at 9:00 AM on September 29, 2005

I think this is turning into a lifestyle debate, rather than a discussion of acceptable levels of noise. The fact remains is that if I like doing something that creates noise, and you dislike this noise, it will fall into your definition of 'inconsiderate'.

The trees is a perfect example, Decani. We're all used to trees and so aren't annoyed by them. If you aren't a noise-tolerant person, the point is to find a place to live where you can tell from the environment the kind of people who live around you and what their noise levels might be.

I think basically that the general message people are agreeing on is consideration AND tolerance going hand in hand. A few people think blanket intolerance is acceptable, a few people (including me) think blanket tolerance would be perfect. However, the happy medium of putting up wind-chimes and taking them down if you get complaints, not playing loud music after 11pm in the week, and not having parties EVERY weekend, is perhaps best of all.
posted by pollystark at 9:15 AM on September 29, 2005

wind chimes are better than "Pat Benatar's Greatest Hits" neighbor plays that all the time
posted by unccivil at 9:35 AM on September 29, 2005

...if the guy upstairs wants to put on Coldplay at 2am and sing along at the top of his voice on a weekend, I'll let him get on with it - he's having fun, so why not?

You're conflating two issues here. First of all, I do want to compliment you on being what sounds like a wonderfully flexible neighbor.

But you're projecting your (evidently pleasant) personality onto other theoretical neighbors, when in fact you fall on the far end of the niceness spectrum. I consider myself a good neighbor, and I have a very friendly relationship with the folks upstairs from us (we're in a 2-family) and my immediate neighbors on three sides. But if someone's singing along with Coldplay at 2am, they'd be getting a polite but firm "suggestion" that they stop.

We're not objecting to the wind chimes per se, but to the idea that a responsible neighbor would consider that a. some people might consider even a relatively quiet and "pleasant" sounding chime an annoyance, and that b. something that's (depending on the climate and layout of the complex, etc.) heard at any potential time of the day or night may be more annoying to some people than loud music that's played for an hour or two on a saturday afternoon.
posted by jalexei at 10:06 AM on September 29, 2005

We're not objecting to the wind chimes per se, but to the idea that a responsible...

Now that doesn't read well - replace "to" with "advocating"
posted by jalexei at 10:11 AM on September 29, 2005

Man, I can't imagine even noticing if my neighbors put up wind chimes. But I live in the city. What's the ambient noise level?
posted by furiousthought at 10:27 AM on September 29, 2005

furiousthought: At night, light traffic. During the day, bustling. It's suburban but right next to a major road (there's an active bus stop about 50 feet from my window) and between several large commercial districts.
posted by ducksauce at 10:39 AM on September 29, 2005

We have similar balcony rules where I live but I believe that the idea behind our rules is primarily safety (fires, things blowing off balconies, etc.), as opposed to intrusion-prevention.
posted by Morrigan at 11:23 AM on September 29, 2005

Outside noise can carry in funny ways, so the way windchimes sound to you inside may be different than the way it sounds to your neighbors. This is especially true at 2am when you're asleep in a bedroom 2 walls away and around the corner with a fan going, and the neighbor is directly across unable to open their window because their insomnia and migraines are amplifying the ching-ching-ching to unacceptable levels. Just an example, but a common reason why windchimes are banned. If your complex has a "quiet hours" policy, lose the windchimes for sure (metal ones are bad for the ching-ching-ching). Otherwise, do a test run -- if you can hear the chimes clearly outside after midnight during a breezy night in front of your neighbors bedrooms, then lose the windchimes. Don't wait for someone to say something. Most people will quietly seeth before actively complaining, and what seems benign when you ask them at 2 in the afternoon will be not benign 12 hours later.
posted by dness2 at 11:24 AM on September 29, 2005

If my neighbor put up windchimes, I would consider it within my rights to rip them down if I could reach them. But I also think murder is a valid option for people who blast music at 3 a.m., so there's that.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:17 PM on September 29, 2005

I would be perfectly willing to be tolerant of someone applying a shotgun to my neighbour's wind chimes - even at 3:00 in the morning. But then, I think wind chimes are obnoxious.
posted by Zetetics at 2:57 PM on September 29, 2005

I like wind chimes. In fact, I was listening to some of them at 1AM the other night, and thinking "How lucky that these are nice wind chimes and that I like them! And that they're hung, not in my building, but 2 buildings away, so that they carry over distance and are muted to a pleasant level!"

If you can see slightly beyond the best answers that you marked because you agree with them, you'll realize that your wind chimes are going to drive someone completely batshit. Hang 'em up - it's a free country - but don't be surprised if you piss someone off. You're liable to start with your roommate; his comments could well be a polite way of saying "I hate windchimes and they drive me completely batshit."
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:22 PM on September 29, 2005

When you think about it, hanging up windchimes is exactly the same as playing a song out your window that you really love and want to share with others. You will soon find that others don't like that song nearly as much as you do. In fact, some of your neighbors will hate that song. And now ask yourself how you would like it if someone played a song that you hated out their window so it went into your place. Hanging up windchimes is actually even more rude than this because people who play music out their windows eventually stop, but windchimes are a "song" that plays at all hours of the day and night and goes on and on and on... So please don't hang up windchimes -- it's the neighborly thing to do.
posted by chezchas at 1:48 AM on December 23, 2005

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