Detailed Project Description

This joint project of the cities of Bern, Ljubljana, and Belgrade explores the phenomenon of the urban soundscape and its potential and role in shaping the affective economies (Ahmed 2004). Drawing on the connection of acoustic ecology with affect studies (cf. Goodman 2010; Kanngieser 2012), the project will interrelate approaches of urban ethnomusicology, soundscape research, and affective theory to investigate with the ways people living in the city invest their hearing capacities in the various kinds of identity building and politics of belonging. Also taking factors like architecture, urban planning, and space representations into consideration, this project particularly focuses on dichotomies in urban soundscapes, such as invisible vs. symbolic, private vs. public, and noise vs. music by focusing on three broader themes:

1)  Religious city soundscapes (church bells, mosques, street religious performances).
2)  Urban soundscapes as places of political participation.
3)  Individual city soundscapes – mobile music, technology and public space.

Based on an analysis of the central keynote sounds and elements of each investigated city, this project hereby investigates how individuals embrace or reject particular aspects of urban soundscape. How do individuals create communities of shared affect through sound? How do these city soundscapes function as part of the broader landscape? The general aim is thus to uncover culturally determined values, unnoticed sounds, and specific urban spaces that are symbolized through sound. Yet the project also intends to analyze how people create their own urban soundscapes – in contrast to the broader urban soundscape – at present. The project will be conducted by using clusters of methods:

1)  field work grounded on ethnographic documentation on the sound topography of the city;
2)  a dynamic cartographic approach of audiowalk, in which the collected archival, textual, visual, musical and sonic data is combined within an Interactive Digital Environment;
3)  a musicological analyses of the collected data and its critical deliberation.

This approach includes also a researcher triangulation, referring to the involvement of more than one researcher from more than one of the partner institutions in the field to gather and interpret data from a different perspective.

RESEARCH PLAN

This project explores the phenomenon of urban soundscape in order to investigate its potential and its role in shaping the so-called “affective economies”, regulating the distribution of affects in space, through which the specific communities of shared emotions and attitudes are being formed (Ahmed 2004). Focusing on the three cities of Bern, Ljubljana, and Belgrade, City Sonic Ecology will trace some of the dichotomies in urban soundscapes such as invisible vs. symbolic, private vs. public, noise vs. music. Sonic events that shape the urban soundscapes, such as church bell ringing, muezzin calls, sounds of the street performers, are variously considered as unwanted noise or appreciated as music. Concurrently, some of the sounds remain unnoticed, being habituated in our everyday experience of the urban spaces, while others can be recognized as symbols of specific urban centres. Finally, given the technological-digital development, many people create their own city soundscapes today by using portable media devices, which often contrast the sounds emitted in the city transport, cafés, or shopping malls. Based on an analysis of the central keynote sounds (Schafer 1977) elements of each investigated city, this project’s goal is to investigate how individuals embrace or reject specific aspects of the urban soundscape, hereby creating communities of shared affect. We will particularly pay attention to the city soundscape as part of the broader landscape, interacting with elements, such as architecture, urban planning, and spatial concepts and representations. The sensorial porosity between outdoor and indoor has let us to question the classical dichotomy between private and public spaces. The project will particularly address three main themes:

1) Religious city soundscapes (e.g. church bells, muezzin calls, street religious performances)

Religions, manifested through (public) sound often arouse strong responses in urban sonic environments and in the context of society, religion and politics, resonate in a variety of assemblages. The religious soundscapes concern a large community of people as nearly everyone is in contact with these sounds in an everyday context (e.g. church bells). The relation of people towards religious sounds is most evident in situations that have triggered heated public responses of individuals and the wider community, thus often reflecting the secular opposition against the sacred. The political control over the (public) sound can thus also be understood as a control of the symbolic order and rhythm of the inhabitants and the environment in which they live. The basic focus of this research theme will be on church bell ringing, muezzin’s calls, street religious performances and their impact on society and the environment, and conversely, the effect of individuals, society and politics on their sonority. Both aspects are closely linked, since human intervention in sonority is the consequence of the perception of sonority. Further central issues are the relationship, attitude, the physical responses and behavioral characteristics of those living in the cities.

2) Urban soundscapes as places of political participation

Giving voice to the public space is one of the possible ways offered by the sociocultural context to participate in a global way of linking habitat spaces with the assertion of social membership. We will focus on sound actions in public spaces – squares, streets, and parks –as the art of doing music. These reflect the co-creation of sound and space, and the potential they have for an affective politics in the sense of agency. Our particular targets will be main city squares, which, through various kinds of protests, have become spaces of shaping new models of political participation, in the last few years.

3) Individual city soundscapes – mobile music, technology and public space

The terrain for the exploration is the internal experience of the individual in the city and uses sound, memory and imagination to create a deep connection to place. For the city inhabitants, being sonic becomes integrated into the strategies adopted for living the street. We will pay attention to individual strategies aimed to modify the experience of the urban soundscape, both intentionally and non-intentionally. Do citizens embrace the dominant soundscape or do they try to subvert it? Which technologies do they use, and does the technology, in a Latourian sense (cf. Latour 2005), influence their choices? Finally, we will pay attention to projects that label themselves as ‘artistic’, offering personal (artistic) interpretations of particular neighbourhoods’ soundscapes. Throughout this investigation, we will particularly focus on the ways that notions of ‘public’ and ’private’ collide in the dynamics of the city soundscapes.

As the subsequent sound-sketches indicate, these aspects are also reflected in various degrees within the three investigated cities – also depending on the broader physical frameworks.

Bern

The characteristic keynote sound of Swizerland’s federal capital Bern (137,937 inhabitants; appr. 338,000 in the larger agglomeration) is shaped by an intersection of specific physical-geographical and historical layers. Generally speaking, Bern is located on a peninsula in the hilly Aare valley with 3-4 larger distinct sound areas that also reflect the different height levels of the region: As specifically apparent at the waterfalls of the dammed river at the Schwellenmätteli, the lower Aare regions are strongly shaped by the keynote sound of the river. The Old Town with its surrounding urban sound mixture is located on the middle level, while the higher areas – that can be further divided into other urban surrounding parts and the hills like the Gurten – not only convey a much more distanced keynote of the inner city, but also include a keynote that is very unusual for a capital city: Animal sounds and bells of various nearby farming houses. Particularly the Old Town also reveals the impact of architectural-historical sound layers: UNSECO world heritage site since 1983, Bern’s Old Town still conveys older historical sound impressions: Not only is this area shaped by the ringing bells and the rooster crowing of the former medieval gate tower Zytglogge, also the numerous fountainheads, cobbled stone streets, and wooden stairways shape the soundscape of Old Town, that however also features characteristic modern sounds like the beeping of the No.12 bus. Yet, particularly the ringing of the church bells of the Münster cathedral and other significant Christian churches still shape the urban keynote, also marking specific hours (e.g. 8 p.m.) and days (e.g. through the Sunday ringing).

However, within this distinct keynote one will also discover the “House of Religions.” Currently still located at one of the higher urban layers, within the noisy traffic of the Laubeggstrasse, one can often hear the ringing sounds of a Hindu procession next to the Rosengarten that overlooks the Old Town. Yet, the audible presence of non-Christian cultures is also set against the current so-called Minaret Controversy, a political debate centered on the banning of the construction of minaret towers in Switzerland that led to a referendum that was accepted by 57.5% of the Swiss voters in 2009: As in the case of the House of Religions, non–Christian sounds are more of an inward quality – restricted to the closer environment of a building and private or secluded spheres. How far does this specific auditory environment also reflect the situation of a country that is shaped by a migration rate of 22.4% (2012)? What does this religious soundscape reveal about deeper subconscious cultural resentments and fears – and also processes of integration?

As the Federal Capital of Switzerland Bern also features open public spaces like the Bundeshausplatz in front of the Bundeshaus (the central governmental building). However, contrary to other capitals, the space is highly open: While it is indeed the central location of the – often musically framed – reception ceremonies of international political guests, the everyday sounds of the Bundeshausplatz is likewise strongly shaped by the sounds of playing children within the splashing waterspout fountain in the summer, the weekly farmer’s market that is contrasted by staged public events of modern radio stations, insurance companies – and demonstrations. Yet also other places like the Lauben promenades locate a vast range of street musicians – and are the place for raves and other sound events that are intertwined with issues of public agencies. This became strongly apparent during the escalation of the “Tanz Dich frei” [“Free yourself through dancing”] event in which a musically announced event turned into a violent situation in May 2013. Which spaces are used for public agency – and how?

While this above-sketched framework also reflects physically-oriented mapping processes, the inhabitants of the city also share emotional-musical references to various places of Bern as an urban space – be it the ringing of the cowbells at the fringes of the city, the sound of the river Aare – or specific individual sounds and concert experiences, for instance. This part of the project will, first of all, develop a set of different soundmaps of the central city – hereby localizing distinct – physical – sound spots and the different keynote sounds of the place. This also includes a historical layer, the annual changes of specific places like the Bundesplatz, as well as individual (human) attachments and references to the place. Thus developing a range of different (and overlaying forms) of urban soundmaps, this research project will hereby explore the possibilities of these instruments to highlight deeper social developments in Bern. This also in comparison to the similarly-sized Ljubljana and in parallel analysis to Belgrade, as this might also highlight interconnect issues of migration.

Ljubljana

The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana (278.638 inhabitants) is a smaller city, situated in the Ljubljana basin. Spatially it looks like formed in concentric circles: in the center there are the s.c. Old Ljubljana and the newer central part of the city. This has resulted in an architectural mixture of old and new buildings, shopping malls and a big park area named Tivoli Park. Around the city center there is a circle mostly consisting of apartment buildings, while the last circle mainly consists of family houses, fields, and some farms. Each of these parts has specific sound characteristics, e.g. more human suggestive sounds are in the forefront of the first two circles, while natural sounds dominate the final circle. With a new policy from 2009, traffic was banned from Old Ljubljana, which has contributed to a completely new acoustic image of the city: Sounds of people walking, chatting, street music, bell ringing, bicycle bells, shouts of newspaper sellers or dealers in the market etc. come to the fore. The Old Ljubljana is located along Ljubljanica river, a quiet river, lately revived by the boat tourism, sound characterized by ‘boat music’. However, the newer central parts remain burdened with sounds of traffic and the frequency of use of car horns and bicycle bells, which indicate the driving culture of the citizens and Ljubljana’s visitors. Similar sounds are characteristic of the area of apartment buildings, which are further mixed with the sounds of silence in parks within the settlements or screaming children on the playground or in front of schools.

In a temporal way we can say that we have an everyday constant Hi-Fi sound layer (cf. Schafer 1977) of nature (birds, rivers, wind), plus the sounds of the bell ringing, traffic (that contributes to a Lo-Fi sound, ibid.), and sound signals and clusters of, for instance, people that occur occasionally, like street music or the sounds of the late civil unrests (shouts, singing, sounds of ratchets and whistles). As Schafer (1977) observed, this also changes with the seasonal time and weather. Ljubljana’s soundscape reflects the rhythm of the city or the people living in it or visiting it: For example, the time of awakening is indicated by the first car or a bus, dog barking, ringing of church bells etc. It also represents the political history of the place, such as Saturday’s cacophony ringing of church bells and howl of sirens fire stations at noon (the howling siren substituted urban bell ringing after the World War 2) or the European anthem at the Town Hall that is played on soundtrack at noon every day since the acceptance of Slovenia to the European Union. It is performed on the carillon, which is the north European system of bell ringing that is unusual to Slovenian soundscape. The hills in and around Ljubljana are distinctive for their bell ringing, especially the half noon ringing of the Šmarna gora bell, which reminds people of averting a Turkish attack.

The identification of the sound signals and keynotes of each of these topics and areas will reveal how the sounds are determining or creating the place and time, what kind of public sound people co-create, which sounds are allowed, which not, which are accepted as the part of the undisturbing soundscape, which are a matter of a public debate, and which are the sounds that people accepted through time. The perception of noise versus music will be revealed through the reaction of people to the distinctive sounds such as dog barking, siren howls, bell ringing or the incorporation of the muezzin’s call in Ljubljana soundscape as a part of the planned building of a first mosque in Ljubljana. How does this sonic debate differ from Bern, for instance? Within the project, we will develop a range of different (and overlaying forms) of urban soundmaps of Ljubljana.

Belgrade

With a population of 1.65 million people living within its administrative limits, and over 1.2 million inhabiting its urban areas, Belgrade is the largest city in the Western Balkans and the capital city of the Republic of Serbia. During the last two centuries, the development of Belgrade has often been unregulated, intermittent and uneven, resulting in a metropolis which has evolved as a veritable conglomerate of different urban characters and soundscapes. A particularly important issue in Belgrade has been the handling of its intricate historical legacy, which often provokes political controversies and emotional outbursts. This is both visible and audible in its landscape. Belgrade has been a capital city since 1841, although in at least seven different states, and has provided a stage for three war destruction which have scared and modified its urban landscape. This thus reflects a completely different sonic history in comparison to Bern and Ljubljana. While its citizens like to conceptualize their city as a crossroad of the Balkans, different interpretations of Belgrade’s past and various visions of its future are conflicting in the urban soundscape and on the level of the everyday experience, both through individual agencies and through agencies of the political and religious institutions.

The Ottoman and Islamic legacy of the city has been marginalized and silenced for at least a century and a half, since the Serbian uprisings (1804–1815) and the final expulsion of the Ottoman’s garrisons from the Belgrade fortress (1867). Formerly a city of myriad of mosques (reportedly as many as 275), the only one remaining today is the Bajrakli Mosque, hidden in the narrow streets of central neighbourhood of Dorćol, and practically invisible and inaudible outside of its immediate surroundings. Under-protected by the police, it has been attacked and burned down by the rioters in the 2004, during the protests held to condemn the violence against Serbs in Kosovo, and has only recently been restored. Former Belgrade’s citadel and the fortress –the upper and the lower town of the Ottoman Belgrade, which was held by the Ottomans until 1867 – has never become a part of modern Belgrade’s urban hub, but was instead converted into the park Kalemegdan, a green area in the centre of the city. It is a place of everyday leisure, but also of many music events, including concerts and festivals in the open, as well as stage for Belgrade’s bursting clubbing scene.

The socialist period has left the legacy of monumental modernist architecture and open spaces celebrating the novel social order which was purportedly installed with the Communist Party’s triumph in the National Liberation War during the Second World War. However, since the 1990s, these public spaces are de-secularized and new Orthodox churches are being built which directly influence the Belgrade’s soundscape. Apart from the array of vast churches being built in Novi Beograd – a municipality constructed after the Second World War as the flagship of socialist urban revolution – the most prominent example of this process is the Saint Sava Plateaux in the old Belgrade municipality of Vračar. The Plateaux – a busy green area on the top of Vračar Hill – had been dominated by the National Library of Serbia, built in the Socialist Era in 1973. However, this domination has been challenged with the construction of Saint Sava Temple, one the world’s largest Orthodox churches, during the 1990s and 2000s. Importantly, the temple features a special set of custom-made bells which can also work as carillon, and their noon chiming is the single loudest everyday feature of Belgrade soundscape, audible at least in the whole of Vračar. Since their installation, the bells have provoked reaction from both believers and non-believers, and the sense of amazement is apparent in various videos uploaded on the YouTube.

The squares and streets of Belgrade have been the places of various social unrest and rallies during the 1990s, which culminated in 2000 in the overturn of Milošević’s regime, in which the role of sound and music has been very important. Belgrade remains a place of various political protests, often of conflicting character – from the flashmobs and rallies aimed to fight for minorities and social rights to nationalistic protests which try to recapture and remap the city. Although these different political intentions all sparkle the memories of the 1990s, their methods of reclaiming the Belgrade soundscape are very different in nature and the applied technologies. Soundscapes of the nostalgic and utopian Belgrade are also present in the very city centre. This sub-project we will focus on two places where they remain most visible in the present: Skadarlija and Savamala. Skadarlija, a common name for Skadarska Street, is famous for the seemingly endless array of its ‘traditional’ restaurants – kafanas – featuring ‘traditional’ urban live music performances. The genre which is sought for in Skadarlija is ‘starogradska muzika’ (“old city music”), representing the utopian image of the “old city bohemian atmosphere”. It can be heard both in the taverns and on the streets, performed by the wandering ensembles, attracting both tourist and local populations. On the other side of central Belgrade lies Savamala, purportedly the oldest Belgrade urban zone, now de-gentrified and endangered by the heavy traffic which is the dominant feature of its soundscape. In the last years it has become the neighborhood of choice for young artist and alternative clubbing scene. Projects such as Slučaj Savamala (Savamala case, http://www.savamala.rs/) seek to challenge the notoriety of the neighbourhood and to transform the soundscape of this area though artistic and installations, as well as local micro radio broadcasts.

Investigating the Belgrade soundscape, we will particularly explore the dichotomies between unwanted (noise) and appreciated sounds, between marginalized and dominant soundscapes. We will explore what are the sounds to which people react and which put them into motion, and which one pass unnoticed as background noise. We will investigate how different perceptions of the urban soundscape and conflicting interpretations of what is unwanted and what is embraced result in forming different affective communities which are contesting their rights over the public space – findings that will further compared with related observations in Bern and Ljubljana.

CURRENT STATE OF RESEARCH IN THE FIELD

Soundscape studies, or acoustic ecology, are still a relatively novel interdisciplinary field of studies which concentrates on the issues of sonic relationships between people and their environment. Although it often appears heterogeneous, certain treads run across this multifaceted discipline, endeavouring to radically change our paradigm of thinking about the sound and music. Acoustic ecology usually criticizes discourse- and image-centred trends in the Cultural Studies, arguing for the importance of the sound in the processes of cultural mediation with the environment. It further challenges the concept of ‘art’, even when discussing artistic practices such as soundart, and questions the border between ‘noise’ and ‘music’ which appears to be artificial in the everyday life (cf Zittoun 2012). Finally, focusing on the micro case studies and the current social phenomena, acoustic ecology tries to evade grand narratives and to draw conclusions on the local scale, particularly communicating with issues of urbanism. One of the key proponents of the soundscape studies since 1970s has been R. Murray Schafer (recent publications including Schafer 1993). His work has set the discipline as one which encompasses scholarship, as well as artistic projects and documentary works (such as the pioneering World Soundscape Project, but also Steven Feld’s (1982) groundbreaking studies). We will particularly refer to specific contemporary treads in acoustic ecology which communicate with other interdisciplinary fields, such as memory studies, soundart studies, urban geography, conflict studies and theory of affect.

One of the main objectives of the soundscape studies has been to challenge the predominant “eye culture” (Wrightson 2000) or the eye-centred approach to society and to bring forward the importance of the sound in the shared social spaces as a vehicle for forging communities and social relationships. The sound has been awarded the same importance as the landscape in experiencing the place and in constructing “the feeling of ‘home’” (ibid.). Arguing for all-pervasiveness of the sound and soundscape, authors have been especially keen to distinguish between ‘hearing’ a passive process, or “listening as such”, and ‘listening’ (“listening to something”, Böhme 2000), as an conscious activity, and to award special importance to the former , as a ubiquitous non-voluntary activity which underpins our presence in the (urban) surroundings .Importantly, soundscapes studies brought in the “ecological reasoning” into sound studies, investigating sound not primarily as a musical phenomenon, but as a part of humane environment; in this manner, it has been possible to challenge the dichotomy between nature and society in production of soundscapes, and to question the teleological approaches to sound (cf Oddie 2011). In recent years acoustic ecology has become more concerned with the how soundscape can act as mnemonic technology. Concepts such as sonic memory material (Voegelin 2006) and auditory nostalgia (Bijsterveld and Van Dijck 2009) strive to explain how specific sounds trigger the cultural memory, looking into personal choices of music listening, investigating sounds in situ – in their urban surrounding, as well as investigating soundscape artistic practices.

The question of soundscape as an artistic medium, and the (inter)relationship between soundscape and sound art represents one of the key topics of the contemporary literature devoted to the artistic usage of sound. This has been the subject of musicological considerations (Demers 2010), as well as discourses of art history, visual arts, architecture (Licht 2007; LaBellle 2006), philosophy and aesthetics (Voegelin 2010; Kim-Cohen 2009), and noise and new media aesthetic (Hegarty 2010). Authors from these perspectives have also emphasized the importance of questioning the borders between noise and music, and between art and everyday experience, in trying to capture sound(art) not as a petrified museum exhibit, but as a lived aesthetic experience. In the field of conflict studies the question of sound and soundscape is becoming more important as an arena where cultural discourses fight for dominance and as a mechanism for imposing political and territorial control. Steve Goodman (2010) has been particularly successful in showing how the sonic forces are being used in order to achieve crowd control and to affect populations. This is an important issue in current research projects, such as the project Antagonistic Tolerance led by Robert M. Hayden, where the sound is being recognized as one of the markers of (religious) groups’ dominance in certain urban areas (Hayden and Walker 2013).

The connection of acoustic ecology with affect studies (cf. Goodman 2010; Kanngieser 2012) is of particular importance, as both disciplines are concerned with overriding the paradigm of cultural studies which is centred on discourse, semiotics and representation in explaining the production of social meaning in the society. Both acoustic ecology with affect studies have reached out of the box in order to explain how people interact with their environment and how they create ecologies of shared affect through non-representational means. Investigating sounds-sharing and soundscapes remains a fruitful avenue in these explorations, particularly referring to issues of political protests (cf. Tremblay 2012; Waitt et al. 2013). Urban geography has nurtured a pronounced interest towards the study of sound, not least sparkled with the recent translation of Henri Lefebvre Rhythmanalysis (2004), where the French sociologist claimed that every city has its own rhythm, a audible cachet imprinted in its soundscape (cf. Simpson 2008; Fraser 2011). Recently, Solène Marry (2011) has argued in favour of the importance of soundscapes and sonic perception in creating mind-maps of urban environments. Besides engaging in scholarly studies, an array of experts has tried to create soundmaps and record soundscapes of various urban areas. These projects include Limerick Soundscapes, Sounds of Europe, Soundscapes of Rostock, etc. The idea of these projects has been to record and preserve the urban soundscapes, but also to politically intervene and interact with the local communities.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PLANNED RESEARCH FOR THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY

Focusing specifically on the urban soundscape this project will significantly contribute the enhancement of existent soundscape studies, also by critically analyzing the existent vocabulary. For example, how far is Murray Schafer’s distinction into keynote sounds, sound signals, and landscape signals developed in his central study The Tuning of the World (1977) really sufficient for such a modern urban space that also includes human – emotional and social – layers? Due to the comprehensive and interactive exchange of the analyses of the three different urban case studies, this project intends to contribute to the development of a distinct language of urban sound perception.

Soundscape research is closely intertwined with ecological issues, as it highlights omnipresent, yet often only unconsciously perceived elements of the human soundscape environment. Generally speaking, the comparative soundscape study in three different urban environments will thus also contribute to the debate on how to deal with “noise pollution” that has a recognizable impact on the human physical well-being. At the same time, this study uncovers human strategies of orientation within urban environments. What is the impact of the Lo-Fi sound in the different settings? How strong is the need for alternative (Hi-Fi) sound spaces in cities – and how can these be developed? Noise pollution is particularly a problem of many financially-weak countries that often depend on the re- usage older, often noisy machines, for instance. This project will address the possibilities in these regions to raise the awareness and develop affordable instruments of reducing these problems that are also intertwined with sociopolitical issues.

METHODOLOGY

The project will establish a systematic overview of the theoretical discussion of concepts of soundscape research authenticity from the broader area of ethnomusicology, yet also other disciplines. The central practical research part of the project will be conducted by using a cluster of methods:

1) field work grounded on ethnographic documentation on the sound topography of the city, supported by the semi-structured interviews (particularly necessary when concerns the topic of individual soundscapes);
2) dynamic cartographic approach of audiowalk in which the collected archival, textual, visual, musical and sonic data within an Interactive Digital Environment;
3) musicological analyses of the data collected and its critical deliberation.
So far, except for the sonic descriptions above, little preliminary data material exists.

The overall methodology is based on triangulation as a methodology facilitating validation and interpretation of fieldwork data. It refers to the application and combination of several research techniques in the soundscape research – i.e. transcription and sound analysis. This approach includes also a researcher triangulation, referring to the involvement of more than one researcher from more than one partner institution in the local field to gather and interpret data from several perspectives. Given these procedures, triangulation seems to be a promising strategy given that fulfilment of our objectives will be largely dependent on the degree of methodological completeness. The distillation of the actual models will be shaped by the “grounded theory approach” – which is a constant interplay of empirical findings and the framing of theoretical findings (Glaser and Strauss 1965, 1967, 1968, Charmaz 2001).

SIGNIFICANCE FOR THE SUSTAINABLE ACADEMIC, ECONOMIAL, AND SOCIETAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE PARTNER COUNTRIES

This project will have a strong impact with regard to the larger ethnomusicological community, as it will help to connect Eastern European scholars with the dominant Western networks that can often only barely be attended – due to the lack of financial backing, yet also due to the lack of access to central publications and, thus, discourses. However, the relevance of the project outcomes will exceed a purely academic domain, likewise addressing wider actors, social subjects, and activities that are also directly involved in policy making. The issues we address in the project have been chosen on the basis of being

1) innovative and of crucial importance, according to our experience and previous research;
2) sustainable and implementable by all the partner organisations;
3) related to the particular competences of the partners.

The proposed project results are designed to be used for university programs in the fields of ethnomusicology, music history, cultural history, anthropology, cultural studies, cultural geography, architecture, and urban planning. Thee audiowalk can be a useful educational tool, which combines a digital approach with conventional teaching methods and will thus incorporate new technologies in teaching. It will contribute to a learning model, which is based on personal engagement with the world. It will thus provide an interface between the university classroom and society, and will contribute to the preservation and dissemination of this knowledge.

The project will raise the awareness of the role that sound plays in the quality of everyday working and living context. In this regard, this will also be important for encouraging the circulation of knowledge, experiences and good practices and for favouring new initiatives related to urban planning, ecological, and urban life in general. In this way, the collected material can be used to raise awareness and to diagnose the need to take action in a sense of policy making The sensitization of local and national policies on best practices is also an essential action to facilitate attitude changes towards a more healthy and attractive urban environment. The analysis of such frameworks in every partner institution will serve as a valuable database to move towards a more sensitive urban planning.

The project’s most original contribution concerns the focus on audiowalk tours based on the research results. These will also be used for the promotion of the cities in terms of contributing to the touristic city offer. Such a tool will moreover provide knowledge and raising awareness with regard to ecological issues at various levels and to act in favour of the necessity to develop strategies to reduce and to ultimately combat “noise pollution” (Schafer 1993 [1977]) and related phenomena. This is an important step on especially in the case of East European societies to legitimate the development of specific strategies to adjust to every particular context.

Finally, an impact will also be achieved in the awareness-raising of the transition processes influence on everyday life in urban centres. Post-industrial, post-socialist but also post-conflict (in a sense of the Yugoslav War) of the cities’ soundscapes reflect the political, economic changes in Eastern Europe. Dominant accession discourses and political practices in Central and South-eastern Europe is based on a dialogue on how European citizens, or peoples living in various parts of the continent, understand the meaning of European values and negotiate and practice Europeanness. This project involves partners from three states in the various stage within EU in the region of the Western Balkans (Serbia – EU candidate), in the New-EU member states (Slovenia) and in Switzerland.

By mapping the urban sound geography in the three different context and by addressing also politically sensitive issues, such as religion (particularly sensitive in the case of former Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav conflict) and new forms of political participation, the project also intends to uncover partly unconscious human strategies of adaptation, communication, and conflict through the urban sound geography, hereby also contributing to the

–  city sound ecology and conflict solving,
–  auditory side of migration and integration,
–  sonic modernization in the light of transitional paradigm in the Central and East European societies.

On the other hand, the project will reflect on the “shared” urban sonic legacy among the cities under research. Globalization and mobility which have significantly remodeled the relations between sound and space in the last decades enabled profound new connections in a sense of dynamics of detaching and repositioning This includes aspects such as refiguring/appropriating urban spaces by musicians, the ways the latest economic crises has prompted many musicians to play on the city streets and squares, as well as the anti-austerity measures protests across Europe and their distinguished sonic aspects. The project will look into the parallel and multiplied images, discourses and practices on sonic ecologies and attempts to facilitate (self-)perception and politics of belonging. This could also provide a better foundation of the ongoing EU integration and prevent the utilization of already established stereotypes and mechanisms of exclusion.

The outcome of the project, a monograph and audio walks, will also contribute to the improvement of the existing cultural policies in the cities by pointing to the stereotypes and ideological mechanisms used for exclusion. By uncovering partly unconscious human strategies of adaptation, communication, and conflict through the urban sound geography, it will raise sensitivity of the policy makers for these ideological patterns and awareness of consequences of an unreflected application, such as with regard to the perception of migrant cultures in their host countries. For example, given that Switzerland hosts many former guest-workers and refugees from former Yugoslavia, the comparative study of Bern, Belgrade, and Ljubljana should bring out many interconnected observations and might thus also be of sociopolitical impact.