‘There to hear':reimagining mobile music and the soundscape in Montreal

Thulin, Samuel (2012) ‘There to hear':reimagining mobile music and the soundscape in Montreal. In: Hidden cities. Inter-disciplinary Press, Oxford, pp. 97-106. ISBN 9781848881037

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This chapter reflects on a Montreal-based project investigating relationships between music, mobility, and the urban environment. The project, ‘There to Hear,’ involves imaginatively reframing the activity of travelling around the city via walking and public transportation. Field-recordings of a specific route in the city of Montreal act as the sole material used to create a musical composition intended to be listened to on a mobile music device, such as an mp3 player, while travelling the route from which the original recordings were made. Three musical movements correspond to three methods of moving about the city – walking, taking the bus, and taking the underground metro – and aim to create slippages where the listener is unsure whether what is heard is coming from the external environment or from the headphones. The boredom associated with routine city travel becomes an opportunity for creative intervention, and the idea of the iPod listener occupying a sound bubble hermetically sealed from the outside world is ruptured as emphasis is placed on the porosity of the headphone boundary and the ways in which this boundary is negotiated. The ‘music route’ is influenced by another genre of audio exploration – the soundwalk – but modifies it i n two significant ways. First, it openly examines the practice of listening to music through headphones while occupying the urban soundscape, and second, as well as walking, it explores other methods of transportation. This chapter will focus on ‘There to Hear’s’ reimagining of the city soundscape and how this play on urban aesthetics provokes questions about how mobile music is involved in relationships between listeners and the urban landscape through which they move. Rather than taking a standpoint that sees the use of mp3 players as indicative of separation and disconnection, this chapter will argue for the value in considering the ways in which listeners remain connected to their environments though differently engaged with them.

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24 Feb 2015 08:06
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12 Sep 2023 01:56