EMS Proceedings and Other Publications

Meaningful Listening through Soundwalks

Andra McCartney

Andra McCartney, Associate Professor, Communication Studies Concordia University


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Soundscape studies consider the acoustic environment as it is created, shaped and heard by those who move through and inhabit the environment. This is a multidisciplinary, qualitative approach that considers the sounds heard as well as the social and cultural contexts in which they are produced. A soundwalk is an exploration of a location through walking, in which listening becomes the primary source of information. Soundwalks are used for exploratory and research purposes, they can be recorded, and can also be guided. Soundwalks provide a way for people to think through the cultural, political, sonic and social meanings of everyday sounds.
The Soundwalking Interactions research project in the Communication Studies department at Concordia University considers approaches to soundwalks and interactive soundscape installations that challenge audiences to approach such walks and installations actively, using interpretive and inventive listening practices. Such practices can lead to heightened opportunities for reflexive development of creativity in artists and audiences. The presentation at the Electroacoustic Music Studies Network meeting in Stockholm discusses recent soundwalks and soundwalk art projects undertaken by the research group, drawing out themes about how audiences interact, listen, and make meaning in each context.

EMS12 Proceedings