The Sounds of Cities: Three Aural Vignettes — News

your eyes and lis­ten to a street. 

Depend­ing on the set­ting, you may hear a lush acoustic or the ever­p­re­sent lulling hum of rest­ing infra­struc­ture. Each city sound­scape is a unique, capri­cious aur­al .

A recent episode of Mon­o­cle’s The Urban­ist pod­cast looks at sound­scapes in the built envi­ron­ment, explor­ing there is to learn from the sounds of cities.

John Lev­ack Drev­er, pro­fes­sor of acoustic ecol­o­gy and sound art at Gold­smiths, Uni­ver­si­ty of Lon­don, is inter­est­ed in draw­ing insight from city sound­scapes and under­stand­ing the effects of sound on liv­ing beings both and out­side of cities. Drev­er con­sid­ers acoustic ecol­o­gy and the study of sound­scapes to be holis­tic than the study of acoustics, allow­ing for a more qual­i­ta­tive under­stand­ing of sounds and sound-mak­ers.  

“Dis­ci­plines like acoustics are very focused on sound pres­sure lev­els and issues of noise. Acoustic ecol­o­gy is inter­est­ed in the qual­i­ty of sounds, what they mean, all the sounds in a space, and also the hearers—all the who are lis­ten­ing and sound-mak­ing,” explains Drev­er.

Lis­ten to the pod­cast to hear a series of record­ings from the same loca­tion in Lon­don’s Beauchamp Place from 1928 as well as before and after the coro­n­avirus lock­down. Also fea­tured are sounds from Erim­i­tis on the Greek island of Cor­fu, “a 500 acre bio­di­verse spot of land its own sound iden­ti­ty,” and Vien­na’s shift­ing sound­scape.

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