Student Workbook on the Anthropology of Sound: Soundscape Analysis
“Soundscape Analysis” highlights the powerful cultural information available if one takes in as much sonic data as possible. Students will analyze the use of sound in cultural anthropology and embark on a unique sonic adventure. Each student must conduct the project by following the instructions below. Once the fieldwork has been completed, they are required to share their field notes and report as a password protected chapter of this workbook. Fellow Students will be required to comment on the chapters of their classmates for discussion purposes.
You must dedicate 1 hour to the fieldwork itself. You must do this assignment alone. In other words , do not do this assignment in the company of a family member or friend. You need to remain silent and have the ability to listen well.
Sonic Adventure choice:
Choice 1. Soundscape analysis of a mode of public transportation. Decide to take a bus ride , train/subway ride or ferry ride. . If you have an airplane flight booked in this period, you can use the flight. Walking, driving or riding a bike is not possible. Car rides , even if it is shared, are not allowed.
Choice 2. Soundscape analysis of a public space. Choose a place that is open to the pubic or available to the public if they pay entry fee /pay for a service) . This choice is filled with options-you can choose almost any public space that attracts your interest. Some ideas for you to consider: amusement park, a cafe or coffee bar , zoo, park, beach , a bench on a main avenue , fast food restaurant, a festival, fair, outdoor market or shopping mall. *you can not choose a movie theater, most stores or formal restaurants because the sound Is controlled in these places and /or you can not control the amount of time you may remain there.
Tasks in the field :
Pay close attention to the soundscape of your mode of public transportation or public space for 30 consecutive minutes and take notes. You must ride the transportation for 30 minutes or stay in one space (in the same spot) for 30 straight minutes. No matter if you pick choice 1 or choice 2- Be sure you have a place to sit ( do not choose the subway during rush hour) and take notes. Bring a cell phone or watch to keep time only, notebook and pens. Once you have a seat and ready to begin, write down the location ( for example : L train towards Manhattan, beginning at Myrtle ave. or The name of the public space or geographical location if it is an outdoor space). Write down the date, day of the week and the time you begin analyzing. Write on paper, do no use a digital device- they inherently present other distractions.
Keep the pen in your hand and write notes about what you hear. Everything you hear. Describe all the sounds , music , noises , barking , car horns, talking etc ( not looking for you to write down every word you hear, but instead a general description of the chatter. For example ” French language conversation, but incomprehensible to me because , while I can identify the language, I am not fluent or a shouting match between two male voices in English about football or a mother trying to calm a crying baby with gentle humming.
Make some sort of note on each sound you hear. Also make note of how the sounds make you feel. Write down any sensations you experience ( were you annoyed? Entertained? Irritated ? Etc. Do your best to describe this 30 minute experience. Mark down the end time. If you chose to analyze a mode of transportation, note where you ended the 30 minutes ( for example, 8th ave stop in. Manhattan) if your ride ends before your 30 minutes are up, finish it at the station Or where you stop.
You are NOT allowed to record this with any sort of device. Do this in real time.
You must dedicate at least 1 hour to this field work, to allow time to reach your location or the mode of transportation, to find a seat and set up. The 30 minutes of your study must be done with concentration.
Report and Field Notes:
Write an introduction that includes which choice you made and why you decided on this mode of transportation , location or place. Type up your notes from the field work and include them in their own section. This does not need to be a flowing , structured essay, just provide information for each section.
Once you finish including all your notes , write a section explaining what you learned from this experience and how it made you feel to do fieldwork in this way. In conclusion, discuss the importance of listening to a space and place and how it can enhance your understanding of culture.
Discovering Cultural Anthropology by Antonia M. Santangelo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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