Researchers illuminate role of sound in urban studies

NCRM news
Manvi Vora and Ed Grover

NCRM has published a new video that illuminates the role that sound can play in qualitative research.

The video features presentations from three researchers: Dr Rishika Mukhopadhyay of the University of Southampton, Dr Elona Hoover of the University of Brighton and Dr Matilde Meireles of the University of Oxford.

It is a recording of a recent webinar, Sound as Method, which was run by Qualitative Expertise at Southampton, NCRM and the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership.

Each of the speakers discusses their use of sound in recent research projects within urban spaces.

From bustling city streets to vibrant marketplaces, their research unveils the hidden melodies and rhythms that shape our everyday experiences.

The researchers reveal how they have intertwined ethnography with sound capture and composition to illuminate the intricate tapestry of urban environments.

Through innovative techniques like audio diaries and sound tours, their work transcends traditional research boundaries, offering a fresh perspective on the complexities of urban life.

Dr Mukhopadhyay explains how she has used sound to understand the sensory heritage of Kolkata in India, through field recordings and sound captured by participants.

"In a city which is very concretised, we were quite surprised to see the varieties of sound that started to emerge, from nature to culture, to machine, to home spaces," she says.

Dr Hoover described using sound in ethnographic fieldwork with urban commoning projects.

"The approach to sound as a technique, for me was inspired by sonic geographies, by sound art practice – also as a technique but not as a technical act – and investigating the relationship between sound, setting and listener," she says.

Dr Meireles discussed the collaborative methodologies behind the online platform Constellations: Experiments in Multi-Media Ethnography, which was the result of an interdisciplinary ethnographic study in Brixton, London.

"This people-centred study interwove ethnography with sound art and was developed with the aim to better understand cities and urban life through a critical investigation of the sonic conditions of cities, and of people’s experiences of urban environments," she says.

Watch the video