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The Next Station… is Covent Garden

covent gardenOver the coming weeks, we’ll focus on individual stations from our project The Next Station, exploring their sounds in detail and allowing the artists to explain how they approaching reimagining those sounds.

It seems appropriate to kick off with the sound that gives our project its name. Even more than the iconic phrase ‘Mind the Gap’, what you’ll hear most often on the London Underground is the almost musical cadence of ‘The next station is XXXX’, at almost every stop on every line.

The music of this phrase is instantly recognisable if you’ve ever been in London, as are the famous, anonymous voices in which it is spoken.

Here we arrive at Covent Garden station, only to hear tourists asking a local for directions around the Tube network. Directions given, we wander outside and hear a busker playing a lap steel guitar, a slightly unusual choice even by London standards.

For the reimagined sound, we’ve played around with the phrase ‘the next station’, with contributors from around the world reading it out in 12 different languages.

In doing this, we remove the sense of predictability and security from the phrase, placing it instead into the mouths of imagined tourists – are they wondering if they have indeed arrived at the correct next station?

You’ll hear the phrase in English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, Arabic, Vietnamese, Dutch and even Klingon(!).

City version:

Memory version by Cities and Memory:

The second reimagined version of this sound is by Rachel Devorah, who asks:

“If the buskers of the Covent Garden tube station were haunted by the performances of the Royal Opera House – by the sonic impressions Handel and Gizziello left on the air above them – what would it sound like?”

Memory version by Rachel Devorah: