Can Geographers Make Sound?

Authors: Luke Leavitt*, University of Wisconsin - Madison
Topics: Cultural Geography, Environment
Keywords: sound, music, soundscape, phonographic methods
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 32
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


With composer Hildegard Westerkamp, this paper asks how music composition could be considered geographic research. Westerkamp’s celebrated soundscapes weave field recording, narration, melody, and sampling, embracing the sonic continuity between noise capture, socio-cultural commentary, and music-making. For geographers, Westerkamp and other “composer-theorists” have inspired new ways of using soundscapes to augment and theorize various affective, aesthetic, non-linguistic, non-human etc. qualities of space. However, unlike Westerkamp, fewer geographers deploy traditional compositional devices, such writing melodic motifs, to “analyze” place. This contribution explores the sonic, theoretical and practical thresholds between soundscape and musical composition, focusing on methodological considerations within geography.

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