This article provides four viewpoints on the narratives of space, allowing us to think about possible relations between sites and sounds and reflecting on how places might tell stories, or how practitioners embed themselves in a place in order to shape cultural, social and/or political narratives through the use of sound. I propose four viewpoints that investigate the relationship between sites and sounds, where narratives are shaped and made through the exploration of specific sonic activities. These are: sonic narrative of space, sonic activism, sonic preservation and sonic participatory action.
I examine each of these ideas, initially focusing in more detail on the first viewpoint, which provides the context for discussing and analysing a recent site-specific music improvisation project entitled ‘Museum City’, a work that aligns most closely with my proposal for a ‘sonic narrative of space’, while also bearing aspects of each of the other proposed viewpoints.
The work ‘Museum City’ by Pedro Rebelo, Franziska Schroeder, Ricardo Jacinto and André Cepeda specifically enables me to reflect on how derelict and/or transitional spaces might be re-examined through the use of sound, particularly by means of live music improvisation. The spaces examined as part of ‘Museum City’ constitute either deserted sites or sites about to undergo changes in their architectural layout, their use and sonic make-up. The practice in ‘Museum City’ was born out of a performative engagement with(in) those sites, but specifically out of an intimate listening relationship by three improvisers situated within those spaces.
The theoretical grounding for this article is situated within a wider context of practising and cognising musical spatiality, as proposed by Georgina Born (2013), particularly her proposition for three distinct lineages that provide an understanding of space in/and music. Born’s third lineage, which links more closely with practices of sound art and challenges a Euclidean orientation of pitch and timbre space, makes way for a heightened consideration of listening and ‘the place’ of sound. This lineage is particularly crucial for my discussion, since it positions music in relation to social experiences and the everyday, which the work ‘Museum City’ endeavoured to embrace.