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)