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Soundwalk in Montreal

By Caitlin Loney

Une version française de ce texte se trouve ici

On January 25, 2011, members of the Soundwalking Interactions project (Andra McCartney, David Paquette and Caitlin Loney) went on a soundwalk accompanied by Hildegard Westerkamp. We took public transportation to the Biodôme, located near the Olympic Stadium, to visit a temporary “forest” (titled “The Ephemeral Forest”) created by the City of Montreal using discarded and unsold Christmas trees. People were invited to hang words of hope for the planet on the branches of these dying trees, a fact that made us only more curious about this site.

The recordings are presented in chronological order beginning with a bus from Outremont metro to Rosemont metro, then underground by metro to the Biodôme, ending in the Christmas tree park. The bus trip is marked by the incredible silence of the passengers; the only sounds heard are of the bus itself. The underground metro system which took us to the Pie-IX station presented us with a variety of sonic environments: the openness of Rosemont metro, the claustrophobic roar of the metro car, and the quiet afternoon bustle of downtown Berri-Uqam station. On our way out of Pie-IX, we encountered a corridor filled with whistling, moaning wind. Emerging outside, you can hear our steps crunching in dry snow. As we arrived at the tree-filled park, we were surrounded by pre-recorded bird sounds layered over long sweeping synth chords, a soundtrack reminiscent of nature shows and relaxation tapes. As shown in the photographs, the park was filled with green pine trees, their colour presumably preserved by the cold still one month after Christmas. From the small wooden cards decorating the branches of these discarded trees, we read aloud messages in French, English, German and Spanish about hope, peace and a brighter future for the planet.

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