World Listening Day in Spitalfields

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Thursday 18 July is World Listening Day and we’re celebrating by sharing some recordings of Spitalfields that we’ve collected over the past few years. Spitalfields Speaks is our ongoing sonic exploration of East London consisting of your audio clips and aural memories of the local area. You can download maps showing where recordings have been made and listen to found sounds you’ve sent in to us via the Spitalfields Speaks Soundcloud page.

You can also continue to contribute to the project, uploading your recordings by logging into Soundcloud with these details:

Password: spitalfieldsspeaks

World Listening Day coincides with R Murray Schafer’s 80th birthday. Schafer has been an influential figure in acoustic ecology and founded the World Soundscape Project in the late 1960s at Simon Fraser University in Canada. The project began as a way to highlight the changing sonic landscape and to foster an appreciation for environmental sound through the use of field recordings. He became known for his use of the term ‘soundscape’ to denote a form of listening which perceives the environment to be an ever-changing musical composition.

So, when you’re next walking round the area, why not ask yourself:

How has the soundscape of Spitalfields changed in the last century?

Which sounds in your environment do you listen out for, and which do you choose (often subconsciously) to ignore?

Do you hear the lorry engines and car horns on Commercial Street colliding with the chiming bells at Christ Church as noise or as music?

Or as Schafer puts it, “Is the soundscape of the world an indeterminate composition over which we have no control or are we its composers and performers, responsible for giving it form or beauty?”

If you’re interested in exploring acoustic ecology and soundscapes further, we’ve put together a list of artists, reading and links below:

The Music of the Environment by R. Murray Schafer

Listening and Sound-making: A Study of Music as Environment by Hildegard Westerkamp

Montreal Sound Map by Max Stein . Also check out his Angolan sound map, Tsikaya.

Chris Watson

London Sound Survey

The World Soundscape Project

Music, Soundscape and Acoustic Sustainability by Barry Truax 

Soundscape Explorations 


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