An Auditory Experience of the Underground Soundscape
Located below the ground, the underground city is an area of Montreal filled with shopping centers, food courts, and links to various metro stations, buildings, and streets. Like many cities, the underground is filled with both continuous and dynamic sounds, which, when layered over one another, create a unique soundscape. The following excerpt is a combination of several sound recordings made directly from both Montreal’s underground city and the city above ground. My intention with this piece was to create the illusion of an individual walking and experiencing the underground, while still thinking about the world above the ground, then submerging back to the city below.
The composition begins with sounds of ventilation hums, echos, and the rumble of an incoming moving train, all of which remain constant and eventually become unnoticed to the human ear. My decision to include these sounds is primarily because their omnipresence is so significant to the underground soundscape. Imagine the underground without these noises – the overall sound environment would change drastically and appear much more desolate.
The piece then transitions into sounds of people talking, walking, and eventually leads us to one of the main food courts. We hear the sound of a large fountain located within the area of the food courts, which children and families circle around to enjoy and observe the obscurity and presence of the structure. Food courts appear to be the center and main space for individuals to meet, relax, and re-energize, just as an outdoor square or food market would be a main attraction for city-goers above the ground.
The final segment leads us to sounds one may hear in a city above ground, including buskers, cars driving on cobblestone roads, and a distant helicopter in the sky. The purpose of suddenly switching from indoor to outdoor sounds is to reiterate how noises can change instantly with the simple swing of a door. Ending the piece with the re-entrance into the underground is to demonstrate how frequently the underground is used and further how its presence is significant to many.
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