Posted in Critique

Who’s afraid of R. Murray Schafer?

r-murray-schafer-marcia-adair Photograph by Miss Mussel

Who is, indeed? Both a fervid apology of and a furious pamphlet for Murray Schafer, written by James Wyness last year. Still groovy!

Fouter & Swick

frog

It has become fashionable in some sound and new music quarters to sneer and snipe at R. Murray Schafer and his ideas on the soundscape. In particular I’ve noticed that the ideas set forth in Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World come under attack for being nostalgic, romantic (without defining what this means), idealist, utopian – the list goes on. Of course the detractors rarely come up with any positive ideas themselves. And no I’m not going to name names – that’s for the reader to discover. The critics, if I may dignify them with such a title, range from academics seeking to distinguish their own second-hand ideas to the composer who seeks to validate his or her compositional aesthetic. Personally I doubt if many of the snipers have actually taken time to read the book from cover to cover. I confess openly that after years of taking for granted the…

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Posted in Composition, Presentation

›Background Noise‹. Field Recordings and Ethnography

Background Noise

›[The] visualist bias has dramatically influenced the way in which anthropology itself has evolved. Thus, one emergent and potentially very important aid to the refocusing of the discipline lies in attending to kinds of knowledge that have proved resistant to being coded in graphic or visual ways.‹ (Michael Herzfeld on the future of anthropology; Herzfeld 2002, 245)

noiseToday, there is an increasing concern for the senses in the humanities. Some even venture to proclaim a ›sensory turn‹. In cultural anthropology, a greater awareness for sensory phenomena and embodied subjectivities, for materiality and atmospheres is reflected in approaches such as an ›anthropology of the senses‹ (Howes 1991) or a ›sensory ethnography‹ (Pink 2009). However, in today’s academic practice many scholars still appear to be utterly reluctant to go beyond text, images, or diagrams as a means of communicating knowledge–even when presenting research on the human sensoriality.

Now Cultures of Auditory Knowledge–Knowledge of Auditory Praxis, an interdisciplinary conference held at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and the Karl Franzens University of Graz in June 2014, offered just the right setting to address and, indeed, transgress these representational conventions within an academic context. With a paper on Soundscapes and Ethnography. Field Recordings within Urban Studies I did not try to construct another theory on sound in the city. Rather, I aimed to allow for some first-hand experiences, or at least to provide some ›sensory material‹ by presenting a composed sequence of recordings from the field.

Listening to this sound sample is an experiment you can partake of: Can these recordings actually convey a ›sense of place‹ (Feld/Basso 2009)? Do they reveal something about the people living here, about the atmosphere and mood of this particular ›sonic lifeworld‹?

Continue reading “›Background Noise‹. Field Recordings and Ethnography”

Posted in Miniature for Mobiles, Workshop

›Walking in the City. Hidden Sounds and Mobile Places‹

A miniature for mobiles inspired by Michel de Certeau’s seminal text ›Walking in the City‹, based on the radio aporee app
Silly Walks
John Cleese, The Ministry of Silly Walks

›The act of walking is to the urban system what the speech act is to language. It is a process of appropriation of the topographical system on the part of the pedestrian (just as the speaker appropriates and takes on the language); it is a spatial acting-out of the place (just as the speech act is an acoustic acting-out of language).‹ (Michel de Certeau)

Unterschiedlicher Straßenbelag in der Berliner Ackerstraße II (Willkomm 2006)Photo by Judith Willkomm

›Walking in the City. Hidden Sounds and Mobile Places‹ is a sound art installation in public space, accessible via a customised smartphone app. Listeners are invited to explore and appropriate an area of hidden sounds–and to compose their own radio play by walking.

Footsteps weave places together.‹ (Michel de Certeau)

Vorderseite_KOSMOS_Einladung_2013_final_0©: Kerstin Kühl, 2013

›Walking in the City. Hidden Sounds and Mobile Places‹ was created and presented in September 2013 as an exceptional soundwalk for the KOSMOS Summer University 2013 ›Modern Walking. Innovative Urban Mobility‹ (here’s a video clip on KOSMOS Summer University).

Continue reading “›Walking in the City. Hidden Sounds and Mobile Places‹”

Posted in Miniature for Mobiles

Compose by walking! A miniature for mobiles

›Inside every room of every house of a street, each of them full of audible details, usually concealed behind closed doors: if it would be possible to listen to these everyday choreographies, what could you hear?‹

Fo-Guang-Shan-Tempel_BerlinBuddhist temple at Berlin Ackerstraße (Photo: Andreas Praefcke)

This experimental project called Berlin Ackerstraße (2006-2007) takes you on a participant observation or rather, a participatory sound expedition in Berlin, Ackerstraße. It enables you to listen to the sounds of everyday life in Ackerstraße five years ago – while walking down the street today.

mfmMiniatures for mobiles is an app which responds to your movements: you are literally composing by walking. You are wandering around in a radio play.

Continue reading “Compose by walking! A miniature for mobiles”

Posted in Report

›In the Field‹. Symposium at the British Library

in-the-field_900From 15th to 16th February, I attended In the Field, a symposium hosted by the British Library in collaboration with CRiSAP (Creative Research in Sound Arts Practice). Given the library’s own extensive collections of field recordings — ranging from oral history to ethnomusicological documents, from historical wildlife recordings to industrial sounds — it may just seem consequential for the British Library to adress contemporary practitioners of documentary recording. In fact, with its considerable line-up, In the Field truly aimed to further ›explore the art and craft of field recording‹: among others, speakers included Ximena Alarcón, Peter Cusack, Zoe Irvine, Christina Kubisch, Udo Noll, Salomé Voegelin, and Chris Watson.

As a point of departure, it was Joeri Bruyninckx’ task to relate contemporary field recording practices to its historical origins: back to the days of wildlife recordists Ludwig Koch (UK) or Albert Brand (US), when field recording meant to bring a mobile studio into ›the relative wilderness of the field‹ (Bruyninckx) — occasionally even mounted on a horse carriage.

1936_02_2Peter Kellogg from Albert Brand’s team recording in the swamps of Florida, 1936.

Continue reading “›In the Field‹. Symposium at the British Library”

Posted in Critique, Report

A soundscape remodelled

Urban square Nauener Platz in Berlin was recently remodelled and reconstructed by urban planners and acousticians in order to improve its ambiance – with special regard to its sonic properties. One of the outcomes of this project is a middle-sized noise barrier (gabion wall) reducing the crossroads’ traffic noise on the playground by 3 dB.

Nauener Platz playground with noise barrierNauener Platz playground with noise barrier (gabion wall)

Following a distinct ›soundscape approach‹, acoustician Prof. Dr. Brigitte Schulte-Fortkamp and her colleagues at Technische Universität Berlin not only took measurements and calculated noise contour maps. They also conducted ›soundwalks‹ and even invited local residents to participate in the planning process. In the end, local residents required more pleasant sounds at Nauener Platz.

Sound devices installed on Nauener Platz

In respondance, several ›audio islands‹ were installed: today’s visitors of Nauener Platz are supposed to sit down on ›ear benches‹ with integrated speakers to listen to ocean surf or birdsong (sound devices by Barbara Willecke, sound files by Konstantin Dudel). Continue reading “A soundscape remodelled”

Posted in Collaboration

Create a soundmap based on your own field recordings!

 

Contribute to a global archive of field recordings and create your own sound map projects at the same time with aporee ::: maps !

Header of radio aporee ::: mapsRadio aporee ::: maps is an open, collaborative field recording project started by media artist Udo Noll in 2006. So far, there are 14561 recordings online, accessible via a global map. Most of the recordings stem from Europe or the U.S. – but there is an increasing number of recordings from Africa, Asia, and Latin America as well.

Global soundmap from radio aporee ::: maps Continue reading “Create a soundmap based on your own field recordings!”