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.
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.”
Image credit: Steven Lek, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons