Unheard landscapes: this metaphor leaves space to imagination, to the un-thought, to the un-known, to past and future, as well as unexplored sound scenarios. It also reaches the field of auditory perception, the acoustic domain. Sound, through auditive qualities, acoustic phenomena, design practices, artistic creations, and listening experiences, offers an inspiring transversal entry onto landscapes and ambiances. Beyond the discussions on “soundscape”, approaching ordinary environments through sounds increases the awareness of our own capacities to feel, while we inhabit and move across different worlds. From an ecological perspective, resonance appears a key word, too. It puts sound and space together. It implies the idea of a plurality of bodies, things and living beings vibrating all together, sharing common contexts of time and space.
The act of listening bypasses the passive meaning it usually receives. It contains in itself a completely unexpressed potential, connoted with «project», «pro-action» and «active decision» by individuals. What will be the sounds of the future and the soundscapes in which we will live, or would like to? How can listening practices evolve, how will we listen or how differently could we listen to the world around us, tomorrow?
Inhabiting the world brings to us questions about how we want to manage our being in it. How do we want to inhabit the world sonically? How sound and listening do actually affect our way to inhabit it? Have we lost some of our abilities to resonate with the world? What remains to be heard? Where could the practices of listening and attuning take us to?
A different (idea of) rhythm. Towards a grammar and a spectro-morphological solfege of static soundscapes
In this study we will try to defend and support the proposal of a listening mode, in particular aimed at so-called “static” (or non-perceptible
evolution) soundscapes based on the internal and implicit perception and visualization of their spectro-morphological space (Smalley,
1997). It is not a question of removing autonomy and specificity from the dimension of listening, and from the domain of acoustics, in
order to bring them to the level of the experience of vision and the “retinal” (cf. Barbanti 2001) - flattening them. Instead, it is a question
of giving appropriate relevance to the phenomena of sensory cooperation in the construction of reality (Giorgetti, 2020), and designing
some useful tools for the appreciation, study, and experiential analysis of these soundscapes, sometimes neglected and put in the
“background-position”, precisely because of their “textural” characteristic as opposed to the typically “gestural” sound-foreground. First,
we intend to re-evaluate a concept, largely forgotten and substantially little investigated within architectural studies, namely that of
simultaneity/synchronicity of spatial, visual, and architectural rhythm (see among others MJ Ginzburg, Rhythm in architecture, 1923).
We intend to affirm the possibility of a purely visual and spatial, static and synchronic conception of the concept of rhythm, which differs
from the prevalently diachronic-temporal conception of rhythm itself, typical of the temporal arts and in particular of music and poetry.
It is not a question of thinking about the hypothesis of a rhythm “out of time”, but the possibility of a way of being of the rhythm that
manifests itself in time, but in a static and “simultaneous” way, rather than in a diachronic way, as when, in an instantaneous form,
we admire the alternation of chiaroscuro in a colonnade. These characteristics of simultaneity and synchrony, although apparent, as
they are due to the processes of the ocular saccades whose duration is about tenths of a second (or less), precisely because of the
dimensions of the temporal quantities involved, are attributable to the sensation of the instantaneity of the “psychological present”.
On the other hand, some studies of Comparative Ethnomusicology (Etain and Timmers, 2010) show in a rather surprising way how in
different cultures, historical and contemporary, the perception of the high-low axis of the sound spectrum is conceptualized and verbally
returned through terms that present a clear semantic kinship with the visual-spatial sphere. This discovery allows us to operate the shift
mentioned above, to try to construct a “grammar” and solfege of the spatial rhythm of the soundscape, in conditions of stability. Finally,
some examples of static or textural soundscapes will be presented, in an attempt to frame them within this grammar and articulate
them in possible solfege.