On closer observation, urban soundscapes seems to be negative and disturbing only if we observe or listen to it from the point of a hypersensitive device or “universal surveillance ear”. Prague, like any other big city, offers - besides the “global hum” - a rich variety of different ambiences and locations, each specific to the exact place you stand and how are you able to hear it. The city appears then as a complex living organism, driven by changing scores of multiple sonic lines and niches. If listener is able to navigate or “browse” through them, they can select and perceive them carefully.
If a pedestrian moves out from a busy business street or an underground stairway to the river bank, entering the passages and parks, climbing up to the attics, roofs, and towers, and descending into the “guts” of the town, the musical cacophony of the city dissolves gradually into fine and evolving textures of sonic micro-narratives, images and compound interacting motifs. At night, when the traffic fades out, it is suddenly easy to detect the fabric of almost subliminal noises, hidden by day in the noise of airplanes, cars, trains, the honking of vehicles, etc.
When Peter Cusack came to Prague he was surprised by the sound of air-raid sirens, taking place every first wednesday of month. This is a rather unusual regular event for someone coming from England and most European towns. Peter was also very interested and surprised by the fact that you can approach the railway so easily to listen to it. He noticed that trains are to be found more or less everywhere in Prague. He also noticed that there are many natural sounds in Prague which you wouldn’t guess exist if you didn’t pay attention to them. In fact, there may be more sounds of nature in Prague than in London. It seems that parks in Prague are wilder than those in most cities in the UK, and that the variety of different species could be higher. What about the other European towns? There is still not much comparative research on the phenomenology of the Everyday Acoustics available.
It starts to rain. My window overlooks one of Prague's many enclosed courtyards, and from there, I always enjoy listening to the many activities going on there. This recording is from the afternoon of a late October day. The kestrels and pigeons were becoming agitated as the rain was beginning to fall. More recordings like this and compositions made from them can be found by visiting the nula filecast project at nula.cc.thanks -- Lloyd Dunn http://nula.cc/------------------notes on some of the tracks - supplied by Milos:Udo Noll: 1.End of the trams Na Malovance. Tram pole at the abandoned tram terminus under the Strahov Stadion. Recorded with contact mic. 2011-06-21 2. At the freight train station Žižkov.Heavy diesel engines move container wagons around, everything is vibrating. Recorded at night.rec.date: 2011-06-20 Stanislav Abraham: Ventilation system at Botanical Garden, Albertov Automatic ventilation system of the roof at the greenhouse at the Botanical Garden in Albertov. Visitors can enjoy the sounds every morning at 8.a.m. rec.date: 2008-09-03 John Grzinich Bubeneč Sewer Museum water drops The isolated sound of water drops in the large chamber under the main hall of the Sewer Museum. The space is made from a single vaulted ceiling made from brick and filled with water. The voices coming from groundfloor. rec.date: 2009-10-31 Quiet sounds in the Vilímek passage Document from the 'New Maps of Time' sound workshop. This recording was made from three separate stereo recordings that were synchronized and layered. The passage was quiet as it is Sunday and closed in the evening. Mostly it was inhabited by pigeons. Recorded and captured by Matej, Matěj, Eliška, Lucie, John, Stanislav, Miloš. John Grzinich rec.date: 2009-10-14 Peter Cusack Rubber Tyres on Cobbled Streets For me this is one of central Prague’s most characteristic sounds. rec.date: 2008-08-15 Singing Fountain Prague Castle Peter Cusack The singing fountain at Belveder within Prague Castle was cast in the 1560s from bronze mixed with bell metal. The water jets produce a complex of tones that are best heard by ear from underneath. This recording was made by a hydrophone in the fountain pool. rec.date: 2008-07-04 Trains Crossing the Smíchov Railway Bridge Peter Cusack Sound of trains crossing the Railway Bridge in Smíchov recorded from the footpath on the same bridge rec.date: 2009-01-25 Steam machine in the Sewage Museum Peter Cusack Steam engine in the machine hall is switched on only during some special celebrations. rec.date: 2009-12-12 Strahov, wind in the flagpoles Peter Cusack Windy winter day at the Strahov Stadion. The sound of wind and the wire. Recorded with contact mic, attached on the one of the many iron flagpoles, standing around this huge, half abandoned building. The sport stadion was build in 1929. Then it was the biggest stadion in the world rec.date: 2008-12-04 Masaryk Station Magnetic signals Peter Cusack Our current electrical and electronics technologies swamp us in an ocean of inaudible and invisible electromagnetic radiation and signals. It is relatively easy to make such signals hearable with cheap devices sold for recording telephone conversations. It’s amazing what can be found. These are the magnetic signals inside a City Elephant type train as it prepares to leave Masaryk Station (Station Mitte). rec.date: 2008-07-01