White Noise
Made in White City

Sound of the City: An Introduction

From the ubiquitous hum of the air conditioning unit in New York City to the low roar of traffic which so thoroughly permeates central London, our cities are full of sounds – some we notice and some we don’t.

But whether we hear them or not, they’re always there, part of our lives, providing either comfort or distraction and adding an extra layer to the ways in which we not only move through but also come to understand the cityscape.

WORDS - Karl Smith
PHOTO - Jack Grange

With all that in mind it seems only right that we should be celebrating and exploring the sound of the city, in all its glory and complexity, here on White Noise. So, for the next two months, we'll be casting our ears toward the sonic minutae of the metropolis.

After all, no city is truly ever silent.

From the architecture of sound to the sound of architecture, we'll be asking – and hopefully answering – the questions posed by urban noise. 

Which buildings have the most unique sonic properties? Does Brutalism sound different to Art Deco? How does sound come to define a place in the same ways that geography and architecture can? How and why do those sounds differ from city to city and neighbourhood to neighbourhood? From the high-rise to the underground, what music best evokes the urban landscape – and what music does that built environment conjures or creates for itself?

In May, we'll be joined by students at the Royal College of Art, who will take over temporary spaces at White City Place to create works that incorporate sound waves into their production.

Wherever you are in the world, your city has its own unique frequency. This series, we'll be tapping it with a tuning fork and listening to the way it resonates – the sound of the city.

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