[microsound-announce] [framework radio] #413: 2013.03.24

. m u r m e r . murmer at murmerings.com
Mon Mar 25 07:16:30 EDT 2013

framework radio
phonography ::: field recording ::: the art of sound-hunting
open your ears and listen!


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#413: 2013.03.24

this edition of framework:afield has been produced by jason kahn, and is 
the second of two new installments of his ongoing series 'unheard 
cities'. this edition is entitled 'unheard tokyo'. for more information see:


about the series:

"“Unheard Tokyo” and “Unheard Kyoto” are two installments in the ongoing 
series “Unheard Cities,” where I investigate the acoustics of social 
space by interviewing residents of large cities with the question, “What 
is your favorite sound or sound atmosphere in your city?” For many 
people, this question is difficult to answer as the sounds one 
associates with living in a city are often not pleasant. It is hard to 
think of a sound one likes, let alone a favorite sound. Most people in 
cities try their best to shut out as many sounds as possible.

The “acoustics of social space” (in the sense that the French 
philosopher and sociologist Henri Lefebvre defined social space) is what 
I refer to as the process by which people relate to their environment 
through sound — both in a physical and psychological sense, as well as 
in the context of the way sound delineates one’s place in the social 
structures of a city. The answers to this question not only reflect how 
people think and feel about their environment but take me on a search 
through the city in search of the “favorite sounds.” Each interview is 
recorded in the person’s native language and then the sounds are found — 
in some cases not — and also recorded. On my way looking for these 
sounds I learn about the cities through the interviewees’ ears, their 
voices guiding me through huge urban areas and honing me in on private 
places. On the way to these places I stumble across others, which may 
become my favorite sounds or which disclose to me the inner workings of 
a city, observing its people and places and the ways sound reveals or 
obscures the social space of a city.

 From June to October 2012 I was living in Kyoto with my family as a 
fellow of the US-Japan Creative Artists Program. I was interested in 
juxtaposing Tokyo and Kyoto through sound, as these two cities seemed to 
lie at the most extreme poles of modern Japanese urban culture. Kyoto is 
still very traditional in many ways. Not only are there numerous temples 
and shrines, but traditional Japanese residential houses pre-dating 
World War II can still be seen. Kyoto is also widely considered to be 
one of Japan’s most “liveable” cities, due to its relatively small size 
(in comparison to much larger cities like Osaka and Tokyo), its grid 
work layout (which makes it easy to navigate the city on foot) and the 
propensity of nature very nearby (surrounded by hills with a river 
running right through the center of the city). Tokyo, on the other hand, 
has almost none of these qualities (though, of course, it has others) 
and can be overwhelming at certain times of the day in certain areas of 
the city due to the sheer mass of humanity circulating there. Tokyo 
would be the classic example of the “no favorite sound” city. A place 
where the Walkman was conceived, perhaps more as a tool for survival 
than entertainment. I was therefore very curious to hear how residents 
of each of these cities related to the sound they moved through each day.

In each city I interviewed eight people. In Tokyo, five of the 
interviewees named what one could designate as “noise” (in the sense of 
a sound that is widely considered by most people to be irritating) as 
their favorite sound: this included traffic, rush-hour subway stations 
and crowded city streets. In Kyoto, on the other hand, these sounds came 
less to the fore. I was surprised to discover that the Kyoto residents 
often referred to the sound of a human voice: a Buddhist priest 
chanting, a recording of a Buddhist priest giving a lecture in a temple, 
the sound of one’s mother speaking (as an example of the sound of a 
Kyoto dialect which is slowly vanishing), a young woman working at the 
cash register in a convenience store shouting out “thank you!” In Tokyo 
many of the sounds people chose came closer to sound environments, 
rather than single sounds. This represented for me the density of 
Tokyo’s sonic topographies: the idea of a single sound is almost absurd, 
it is very difficult to experience this, even late at night or very 
early in the morning. Kyoto, with far fewer residents and nothing of the 
density of Tokyo, makes it possible to hear singular sounds. And this 
reflected the Kyoto residents’ answers.

In addition to these favorite sounds revealing hitherto unrevealed 
layers of a city’s inner-workings, I feel too that the sound of the 
interviewees’ voices also divulge a sense of the city in which they 
live. I provide no translations for the interviews. Not only is it 
interesting to surmise, based on the recorded sound coupled with the 
voice, what the interviewee is answering but I feel that the voices are 
also sounds of the cities themselves, carrying with them a quality 
inseparable from the people these voices belong to, as these people are 
inseparable from the cities in which they live." - Jason Kahn, 2013

People interviewed for "Unheard Tokyo" (in order of appearance):

Asako Oshiro
Christopher Blasdel
Takefumi Naoshima
Sawako Kato
Makoto Oshiro
Manami Maeda
Tetuzi Akiyama
Satoshi Kanda

again, we are always looking for new material, whether raw field 
recordings, field recording based composition, or introduction 
submissions. we are also now accepting proposals for full editions of 
our guest curated framework:afield series. send proposals or material, 
released or not, on any format, to the address at the bottom of this 
mail. if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch!


framework intro submissions:

   1)    take yourself and an audio recorder to a location of your choice
   2)    record for AT LEAST 1 minute before you -
   3)    read aloud the following text (in english or translated):

welcome to framework. framework is a show consecrated to 
field-recording, and its use in composition.  field-recording, 
phonography, the art of sound hunting; open your ears and listen!

   4)    continue recording for AT LEAST 2 minutes after the text
   5)    post the recording to us on any format, or send us an mp3

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