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Everyday utopias – Copenhagen, Denmark

Our next highlighted sound comes from Copenhagen, Denmark, where we tune in a field recording of the yearly test of the citywide emergency siren system reserved for major emergencies, times of war etc.

In 2020, it came in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown – which though easing greatly at that time – rendered it oddly significant, according to recordist Timothy John Hinman.

City version:

This field recording was reimagined into an epic warning about the threat of nuclear war – composer Bill Stevens tells us about his piece.

Memory version:

“Upon hearing the original sound recording of sirens in Copenhagen, it struck me how difficult a task it is to truly create an equitable, healthy and climate-safe approach to what well-being might look like for the cities of the world. This is especially evident in light of current world events which are not limited to the Russian invasion into Ukraine and the threat of the use of nuclear weapons coming from Vladimir Putin, the war exercises occurring in and around Taiwan by the Chinese, the continuing escalation of tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, the on again, off again nuclear talks between the United States and Iran, let alone the threat of civil war here in the United States being stoked by an insurrectionist former president.

“My composition, Everyday Utopias, is a cautionary tale of how simple it would be to enter into a nuclear World War if we are not alert to what that would mean for the planet. We have it within our power and abilities to avert this, as of now, imaginary future. For true sustainability and wellbeing to occur, we must be able to put our differences aside and see where we have commonalities leading to a fundamental shift in thinking that looks to revive and protect our planet looking toward a collective future, a more resilient future.

“My tale begins as though in a dream. What future path will we take? One of sustainability or one of mutual destruction? Aside from the musical sections I composed on Logic Pro, I also included the following field recordings:

* New York City Nuclear Preparedness Public Service Announcement
*Sirens in Copenhagen May 6 12.00pm 2020 recording – Timothy John Hinman
* United States Nuclear Preparedness Announcement in the Event of a Nuclear Strike on the mainland United States
* Statement by Albert Einstein as read by Paul Pricer

“I do not believe that this is the path we need to follow, but in the words of Rod Serling from the Twilight Zone episode number 68 from September 29, 1961, “The Shelter” …

“No moral, no message, no prophetic track, just a simple statement of fact. For civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized.”