A listening protocol

I start in the present. An uncertain here and now.
I feel my own body and feel my feet touching the ground.
I don’t look at something in particular. I attend to my breathing and listen to the sounds around me.
What are the sounds that are close to my body?
What are the sounds in the background, in the distance?
What movements, intensities, rhythms, voices are there?
What moves me?
What stops me?
I follow instances when sounds become entangled, reverberant stories.
Acts of the imagination.
I distrust my ears.
I return to the material, spatial, or temporal realities of my listening experience.
I attend to the sounds in-between.

My listening protocol is not a set of fixed instructions on how to listen. This protocol is a set of notes for listening, which I use as part of my practice-based research on sound, art, public space and postcolonial entangled histories. It both reflects past listening experiences and anticipates future listening experiences. It is thus always preliminary and up for amendments. Though not binding, these notes for listening are aimed to be as concrete as possible. The restrictions that this implies are wanted, because they confront me with my presumptions and embodied habits of listening. So they also work as provocations. What I will do with them in the actual listening situation cannot be foreseen. How long I will stay with each of these notes for listening, or if I will skip some of them entirely will be decided spontaneously and on sensory, rational, poetic impulse. Listening is a mode of being-in-the-world and thinking which allows me to explore its powerful, critical, embodied and speculative agencies.

This listening protocol was written in relation to conversations with Salomé Voegelin and Mark Wright who visited the Sound Studies Lab at the University of Copenhagen in the context of their research project Listening Across Disciplines. They discussed with us our individual and collaborative research approaches, our ways of developing research focuses, applying methods, and publishing research results. However, they focused primarily on how we employ listening as a research method. Towards the end of one of our meetings, they asked us to outline our individual listening protocol: »Such protocols are derived from practice and the observation of practice, and take the form of an instructive document that while providing a shareable framework retain space for the contingency and unrepeatability of sound.«

Transcultural Sound Practices. British Asian Dance Music as Cultural Transformation (2020)

Listening to the sound practices of bands and musicians such as the Asian Dub Foundation or M.I.A., and spanning three decades of South Asian dance music production in the UK, Transcultural Sound Practices zooms in on the concrete sonic techniques and narrative strategies in South Asian dance music and investigates sound as part of a wider assemblage of cultural technologies, politics and practices. Carla J. Maier investigates how sounds from Hindi film music tunes or bhangra tracks have been sampled, cut, looped and manipulated, thus challenging and complicating the cultural politics of sonic production. Rather than conceiving of music as a representation of fixed cultures, this book engages in a study of music that disrupts the ways in which ethnicity has been written into sound and investigates how transcultural sound practices generate new ways of thinking about culture.


Symposium: diffractions and the (un-)making of difference

This symposium explores how difference is performed, challenged, constructed and deconstructed – especially in relation to contemporary practices and perspectives of migration – in postmigrant theatre and in school.
The aim of this symposium is to reflect on our analysis of transcultural practices and to discuss its relevance in current academic and socio-political discourses around migration, aesthetic formation and education.
Through four “stages” of the symposium and its theoretical, performative, transmissive and ethnographic perspectives and analyses, we explore non-essentialist and diffractive ways of thinking constructions and deconstructions of difference.
This transdisciplinary symposium brings together researchers and experts from cultural, postcolonial, and gender studies, media and sound studies, sociology and migration studies, and educational studies.

The symposium is a collaboration of the project »Travelling Sounds« (Dr. Carla J. Maier/ Sound Studies Lab) and the project »Transcultural Practices in Postmigrant Theatre and in School« (Arts Academy Düsseldorf)

On Rhythming: Sensory Acts and Performative Modes of Sonic Thinking

A workshop
organized by the Marie Curie Research Projects
“Travelling Sounds” & “Sounds Delicious”.

Concept: Carla J. Maier & Melissa Van Drie
University of Copenhagen & KBH Madhus
20 February 2019


Sounds are situated. They can neither be separated from the event of their happenings, nor from our own experiences of them. One of the challenges for researchers of sound is understanding how the different dimensions of this situatedness can be more fully addressed.

This workshop will develop a working concept of rhythming toget even closer to the complex physical, material, spiritual entanglements of sonic experience and research. How does transdisciplinary work on rhythming enrich sonic thinking?

Different kinds of embodied acts are key to rhythming. It’s through engaging multiple perspectives of hearing and sounding that we can perceive the temporal, spatial, corporeal, poetic forces making up everyday practices and relations.

The workshop gathers together a diverse range of researchers and practitioners, notably historians, anthropologists, artists and cooks. We will share aspects of our expertise, research questions and working methods through talks, and we will engage in collective exploratory experiences. Through this multimodal event, participants are encouraged to thus revisit their own experiential, theoretical and sensual engagement with/on rhythming, and to probe how new epistemologies, desiderata or sonic artefacts of/on rhythming may emerge in the space-time of the workshop.


The workshop is organised as a working process, rather than a succession of completed events/presentations. The first part of the workshop (Day 1), opens up a space for engaging in sonic thinking, inspired by short input presentations, readings, listening sessions, and food preparations. The kitchen and the act of cooking will become a site for conducting sensory ethnography. The focus will be on concrete practices and concepts of rhythming that are encountered in kitchens, theatre spaces, classrooms, or sonic archives. The day will close with the final preparation and eating of a meal, the concept of which is developed in cooperation with a Swedish chef(s). The second part of the workshop (Day 2) is devoted to developing a concept of rhythming based on the actions and reflections that happened in the first part. The focus will be on the ways in which ethnographic and historical research, as well as artistic practices and interventions make use of specific modes of writing, collage-ing, recording, editing and performance, as an integral part of the research and/or artistic outcome. Not as a final product, but as a horizon for knowledge making and embodied research.


Cathy Lane (artist/professor, University of the Arts / CriSAP / London, UK), Ruth Bernatek (The Bartlett School of Architecture / London, UK), Titti Qvarnström (chef, Malmö, Sweden), Katrine Jensen (visual artist, Copenhagen, Denmark), Anne Lepère (artist, Brussels, Belgium), Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri [remote participation] (composer and sound artist , Cornell University / Ithaca, New York and Zurich, Switzerland), Janna R. Wieland (Arts Academy Düsseldorf, Germany), Birgit Althans (Arts Academy Düsseldorf, Germany), Elise v. Bernstorff (Braunschweig University of Art (HBK), Germany), Holger Schulze (Sound Studies Lab, University of Copenhagen), Rolf Großmann (Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany), Astrid Ellehøj Maaløe (University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Bastien Gallet (writer/philosopher, Haute école des arts du Rhin, Strasbourg), Lotta Vuorio (research assistant Sound Studies Lab, University of Copenhagen), Anton Sevald (sound engineer, University of Copenhagen, Denmark)


University of Copenhagen / Department of Arts & Cultural Studies / Sound Studies Lab
KBH Madhus (the Copenhagen Food House) / Meat District / Copenhagen

Photo credit
Artist: Marianthi Papalexandri-Alexandri, Kein Thema, 2007, video still. http://marianthi.net

The Sound of Skateboarding: Aspects of a Transcultural Anthropology of Sound

This essay explores how the sound of skateboarding can be studied as a critical analysis and transcultural anthropology of sound. Combining the analysis of the particular sensual aspects of skateboarding with an investigation of the cultural and urban discourses and politics of this performative practice, the article proposes theoretical and methodological perspectives of studying the particular relationship of sound, knowledge and space. Taking as an example the experience of four female skaters skating London’s Brick Lane on a Friday night, the sound of skateboarding is explored as a tool for transcultural intervention into gendered urban space and for constructing alternative socialities.The article sets out to analyse how skateboarding as a sonic, kinaesthetic and social practice incorporates a new way of perceiving the body and of knowing through sound. It emphasises the tacit dimensions of knowledge (cf Polanyi 1966) that are involved in skateboarding and asks how the aspect of sound becomes crucial in this process. Moreover, the article investigates the skateboarder’s activity of skating the city’s architecture as that of an aural architect (cf Blesser 2007): The way in which the skater explores the city’s structures, how much speed, pressure, feeling or emphasis he or she puts into the performance, all influences how the city responds sonically.

Find the full article here: https://www.academia.edu/31134313/The_Sound_of_Skateboarding_Aspects_of_a_Transcultural_Anthropology_of_Sound