May 12, 2017

From Noise to Music

Re-crafting urbanism: From noise to music

Date: Friday 12 May 2017, 5pm – 7pm
Location: FMSH, 54 boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris
Speakers: Richard Sennett, John Bingham-Hall

The two presentations within this seminar are intended as starting points to open up a discussion about the possibilities of sound and music as lenses for understanding urban space and society. Linking musical and urban analysis, noise can be seen as homologous to unplanned usage and occupation of the city, with music representing attempts to tune and create order within the social world.

Re-crafting urbanism brings to light ideas developed within Atelier TM, a new research group linked to Theatrum Mundi and based within the Collège d’études mondiales Global Cities chair, forging shared questions and new modes of collaboration between the modes of practice of music and urbanism.

Richard Sennett: From noise to music
Classical music has always been nourished by popular music; from Bach to Bartok, composers have drawn on folk melodies, dances, and religious chants. Today this connection is mutating as the ambient world of urban sound becomes incorporated in artistic practice. I am going to describe this aural expansion, focusing on three episodes: first personally, my experience of working with choreographers in assembling tapestries of sounds which can be danced to; next collegially, in the work of the composer Brian Eno, who creates music from raw or synthetic sound; finally, a more general discussion of the liminal relation between noise and expression. 

 John Bingham-Hall
Jacques Attali (1985) describes noise as a “weapon” and music as the “formation, domestication, and ritualisation of that weapon” (p. 24). Whilst noise threatens social order, music is “an affirmation that society is possible” (p. 31). If Paris’ Périperique can be seen as a sonic barrier, as well as a spatial and cultural one, then attempts to overcome this barrier with architectural and cultural interventions and can be re-framed through Attali’s proposition. This presentation introduces work-in-progress that uses sound recording to describe how very different acoustic conditions at porte de la Chappelle and porte de Montmartre afford the emergence of different kinds of counter-publics, and discusses the socio-acoustic implication of projects such as the Philharmonie and the burying of the Péripherique at porte des Lilas.

Attali, J., 1985. Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Manchester University Press.