Sounding the city: critical approaches to urban soundscapes, an international research workshop organized and hosted by FASE (German-Spanish sound-art festival), provided a suitable framework to reflect about the possibilities of developing the essay as an auditory research practice. Through the realization of a first short study, the conceptual base and different strategies for the production of a sound essay were put to the test. The goal was to identify constructive procedures in field recording and sound editing that would generate a radical alternative to the soundscape. In contrast to soundscapes, the sound essay does not depart from the existence of the sound environment independent from the acts of hearing in the territory which demarcates it geographically but from its emergence due to the interaction between a perceiver, focused on listening, and the activity of her surroundings. Accordingly, sound-recording technologies cannot be understood and employed in order to capture and reproduce an environment.
A sound environment is not fully perceivable—see the conference paper Thinking the Environment Aurally. A sound environment is a radically relational and processual whole that is partially constituted by sound objects but cannot be reduced to them. Therefore the sound essay cannot aim to grasp and present the sound environment as it is but rather to open up new possibilities of participation in its process of emergence as a senseful whole.

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