Experience active listening as you embark on an immersive soundwalk. Imagine the microphone in motion as you are walking there yourself, meandering through bustling streets, vibrant squares, and bridges. Each city boasts its unique energy and sonic identity, captured through recordings made while strolling through their urban cores—ushering you into a dynamic realm of auditory exploration.
Soundwalking transcends mere sound—it encapsulates the essence of sound, just as it’s more than walking—it encapsulates the environment you are walking in. A spatial-temporal, embodied, multi-sensory, mobile practice, soundwalking unravels a world of sensory and experiential dimensions while listening to the essence of an environment. To experience sound walking you need to use hearable devices such as headphones, pods, and earbuds.
In the realm of real-world soundscapes, our brains grapple to compensate for the loss of multidimensionality in audio recordings. The cognitive strain of deciphering poorly processed sound can induce a level of stress, anxiety, fatigue, and cognitive decline. Here, binaural recording and binaural immersive listening comes to the rescue, satisfying our brains and alleviating stress. Why? Because it sounds more natural, the listening is as you are in a multidimensional environment.
Contrasting to static stereo field recordings, the dynamic act of walking stimulates the auditory system. Sounds emerge and vanish, presenting an intricate interplay—one sound reigning in an area only to dissolve shortly after. Bells resonating through towers and districts, each narrating its own story and having its own spot in the 3d environment.
This immersive auditory experience goes therefor beyond traditional soundscapes, heightening your perception of intricate details and offering an unconventional listening adventure.
Nowadays our lives are intricately interwoven with urban landscapes that evolve almost in symbiosis with technological advancements.
Amidst all this, alongside other urban factors, the evolving technological milieu influences the rapid transformations in the auditory soundscapes of our cities. Just as our visual landscape undergoes changes due to urban constructions and revitalizations, our auditory realm is equally affected. Research underscores the constant rise of noise pollution alongside industrial progress. Although urban designers are increasingly attuned to the issue of noise within cities, there remains substantial work to be done. In essence, the sonic snapshot of a specific era in a given time gives understanding about the level of acoustic well-being and the historic time frame.
Urban soundscapes and Heritage
In the realm of pedestrian-friendly cities, the auditory experience becomes an playing field for training active listening within our minds. The act of moving, coupled with sound recording, introduces an ever-shifting dynamic to auditory perceptions. Passersby inherently draw our attention, causing us to engage with the surrounding sonic environment. This perpetual flux in the soundscape keeps our auditory senses attuned, sharpening both micro and macro acoustic perceptions. The binaural recording technique, conducted at a walking pace of approximately 4-6.4 km/h, simulates a first-person perspective. Placing microphones within the ear canals, accounting for the occlusion caused by the head’s mass, augments the immersion, rendering the experience familiar and natural.
Moreover, the act of moving provides a unique opportunity to capture different language dialects without detection, exemplifying the interplay of urban sounds with the subtleties of linguistic diversity.
In her eloquent essays, Pauline Oliveiros encapsulates the sonic epiphany that arises from the intention to listen rather than merely hear. This distinction becomes a gateway to profound meditative states. The omnidirectional signals interpreted by our auditory apparatus activate dormant brain regions when we hear, but come to life when we actively listen. This dynamic further solidifies the intricate connection between sound and cognition.
As Flower of Sound
Inspired by the possibilities of soundwalking and creating non-oridinairy listening experiences we created several Walking Cities albums. Which you can get here:
All the experiences consist of different walks through cities. On the album you will find the sound recording and the same recording elevated with calming immersive drone sounds. This tranquil layer envelops you, promoting a profound sense of well-being and serenity. Allow your mind to recalibrate, redirect focus, and unwind in an environment that feels authentic, all while remaining centred and relaxed.
In conclusion, the soundscape of a city, shaped by technological progress and urban dynamics, holds a profound influence on our cognitive experience and makes it possible to really experience a city via listening. The intersection of auditory heritage with urban evolution also offers a fertile ground for designing healthier, more harmonious environments. Through the lens of spatial sound, we can truly decode the rhythm of urban life and pave the way for a more mindful engagement with our surroundings.
If you like to read more on the subject we can recommend the following references:
Noise pollution is one of the biggest health risks in city life
The Effects of Spatial Sound on Human Wellbeing
A First Approximation to the Sound Environment Assessment of Children through a Soundwalk Approach: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7345751/
Integrating Soundscape Criteria in Urban Sustainable Regeneration Processes: An Example of Comfort and Health Improvement https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/14/6/3143