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The street sounds of Amsterdam

Often when you visit a new city in a new country, it’s the most everyday sounds that immediately stand out to you as exotic, as different – the sounds that residents quickly come to ignore as part of the tapestry of their daily lives.

Outside the Vrije Universitat in Amsterdam, we listen to the sounds of a pedestrian crossing, which stood out immediately to us as a new visitor to the city as being remarkably different from those we hear at home.

This sound represents those individual sound marks that can exist in a city in the most mundane spaces, from metro stations to pedestrian crossings, and which help to make our experiences of visiting a city more interesting and unique, even without always being consciously aware of it.

City version:

Rob Knight reimagined this sound into his composition “Home”, about which he writes.

“What grabbed me about the original recording was a section that reminded me of a clock and although the piece is about the well-being and sustainability of cities, we can’t escape the fact that from an ecological point of view, the clock is ticking – hence the use of that part of the original field recording.

“I wrote over 8 sketches for this, that ranged from sci-fi Metropolis style pieces to just field recordings and I found nothing fitted. So, I went back to the start and though what is a city? It’s an enclave, it is different things to different people at different times but for all that, all that it could and should be, for a lot of people it is just…. Home.

“In the final piece I used elements, sounds and music to try and represent organic elements of cites for an individual whist as part of a harmonious landscape. To be honest I don’t feel I addressed all the issues of sustainability or well-being, I think in that I failed even though I called on elements of what they should be reflected musically and in the field recordings, for all the notions of what a future city should be, without humans it is just a shell.”

Memory version:

Image credit: Steven Lek, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons