The aim of this assignment is to invite students to practice multimodal listening, to become sound students, and to do situational work:
Multimodal listening: Steph Ceraso defines multimodal listening as the practice of attending to the sensory, contextual, and material aspects of a sonic environment. Multimodal listening moves away from ear-centric approaches to sonic engagement and, instead, treats sonic experiences as holistic and immersive. Unlike practices in which the listeners primary goal is to hear and interpret audible sound, multimodal listening accounts for the ecological relationship among sound, bodies, environments, and materials (6).
Sound Students: As Jonathan Sterne tell us, Sound students produce and transform knowledge about sound and in the process reflexively attend to the (cultural, political, environmental, aesthetic) stakes of that knowledge production (3-4). He also reminds us that sound students cultivate and facilitate their sonic imaginations (5).
Situational Work: In her text on soundwalking, Westerkamp argues that soundwalking can be called situational work.research that responds to the present situation and to the unplannable, rather than what can be prescribed.
Please develop an argument-based and inquiry-driven project in which you develop some idea you have in response to the following question: What is the role of sound and listening in everyday life, particularly in regards to considering listening as a critical cultural practice? To take up this question, you will need to select some site, such as a case study or object of inquiry, that you can use as a case in point of the idea or theory you develop. A site could be, in this project, some personal experience with sound and listening, it could be some kind of daily practice. A site could also be some kind of cultural activity you engage in. Its important that you see a site as some specific example or demonstration. It doesnt have to be a place or a space, such as in our first project.
When we consider listening as a critical cultural practice, one way to see how this works is to understand how our listening can be informed by multiple factors and identities. Westerkamps offers a useful model of this idea when she writes about soundwalkers that would listen consciously from a base of professional expertise, knowledge, and training, and would at the same time stay conscious of personal background and perspective, such as gender, age, cultural background, political leanings, environmental and spiritual consciousness While Westerkamp is specifically addressing how we might listen as soundwalk participants, her example might also apply to a more general framework of listening that is more ecologically-oriented.
And though we havent been introduced to texts, yet, that help us better understand how sounds and listening practices might be raced, gendered, and classed, this project is the perfect place to begin thinking about how sound and listening can be thought of as ecological acts. Both Ceraso and Westerkamp help us to better understand how our approach to sound and listening is more than being ear-centric.
Use the readings and critical vocabulary that have circulated in our course over the past couple of weeks such as Westerkamp (soundwalking as ecological practice), Sterne (sound student, sonic imagination, sound studies), and Schafer (soundscape, keynote sounds, signals, soundmarks), and Ceraso (multitmodal listening) to enter a conversation and contribute your own argument on what you see as the role of sound and listening in everyday life.
Here are some generative questions (and prompts) you might use to get going on this project to help you find a point of departure for this project:
Develop your own example of multimodal listening and lead us through a process of how it works, and why others might find it equally compelling for their own experience and encounters with sound and listening.
How and why might multimodal listening be used to have a more holistic and immersive experience with a specific soundscape or sonic environment? What do you think might be gained by accounting for the ecological relationship among sound, bodies, environments, and materials in that specific sonic environment (Ceraso 6)? What kinds of more ear-centric approaches to sound and listening does your example help to correct or revise?
How does sound mediate our experiences of everyday spaces such as our homes, work, or leisure spaces? Focus on a series of sounds or soundscapes and develop some idea you have about how they affect, alter, modify, revise your relationship with a specific place or space. How does this investigation provide material to develop some idea you have about the role of sound and listening in everyday life if we think of listening as a critical cultural practice?
Design and plan a soundwalk for real participants, lead us through that soundwalk, and offer an explicit articulation about how it might help us better understand the role of sound and listening in our everyday lives.
Design and plan a soundwalk whose goal is to enable concrete and positive ecological changes to happen in the acoustic environment–for example, soundwalks specifically designed for teachers to teach children about environmental listening. (Westerkamp). Use your soundwalk as a demonstration to develop some idea you have about the role of sound and listening in our everyday lives, particularly in regards to listening as a critical cultural practice.
The audience for this project will be academic readers interested in sound studies. As Sterne says, good scholarship always goes beyond the common-sense categories used in everyday descriptive languageit tells us what we dont already know (2). Expect that your readers will have some familiarity with Schafers, Westerkamps, and Sternes work, but wont have their readings at hand. As such, you will need to put their work into some kind of short-hand. And most importantly, you will need to include sound specimens as demonstrations and evidence for the argument you develop. Readers will want to hear how and why you are working with sound in a particular way.
For Project 2, it is important that you set up a conversation between what Westerkamp, Sterne, and Schafer are saying and what you think your sites place is in this discussion. All of these texts ask readers to rethink their encounters with soundscapes and sonic environments that move beyond habit and routine.
The heart of this project is your careful articulation of what you see as the implication of the creative connections you make between the key concepts circulating in course readings and a site, place, or practice. Build your project around what readers (and users) can learn from your careful exploration of this connection.
As you are building and composing this project, you should keep the following in mind:
Texts: How well does your project situate and engage with Westerkamp, Sterne, and others? Do you work with critical vocabulary (key concepts) from our readings? Do these key concepts circulate in your essay? Do you carefully render specific textual passages (through paraphrase and quotation) in your discussion of the text?
Site: Does your site, place, or practice have some specificity to it? Is it something that you can write about in some detail? Is it examinable? Have you avoided generalizations about your site, place, or practice and found your own way to explore it in particular detail? Do you use demonstrations/evidence to make claims about your site, place, or practice?
Whats At Stake: Does your project set up discussions and lead readers through those discussions? Does your project offer an explicit articulation about why your project should matter to readers? Does your essay communicate the implication(s) of your argument?
Multimodal Composition: Does writer use more than just words to make meaning such as employing visual (static and moving), aural (field recordings and even sound compositions), and spatial (design elements, white space, hyperlinks, etc.) elements.
Process: Has the writer meaningfully responded to the feedback from instructor and peer review workshops? Has the writers project been substantially revised? That is, has this piece of writing shifted, changed, and developed through multiple drafts? (NOTE: Your final submission should not look the same as your first draft!)