Beats of City Life: AGYA at Salon Sophie Charlotte 2021

Arab-German Soundscapes in the Mix

How do Berlin and Beirut sound? What is common or typical of urban soundscapes, regardless of which continent they are on? What makes them sound different and unique? What effects do the sounds of cities have?

In the framework of the Salon Sophie Charlotte 2021 with the title ‘Life is Life’ by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), AGYA presented the soundscape composition ‘Beats of City Life’ featuring the sounds of Beirut, Berlin, Cairo, Tunis, and Kuwait City mixed by professional DJs and DJanes. The artistic compositions aim to enhance our understanding of the urban spaces we live in and to leave an impression on our perceptual habits in everyday life. The soundscape composition was a contribution to the Salon's listening stations clustered along the topic ‘City’ (Hörraum Stadt). This year’s Salon featured an audio walk on 4 and 5 September in and around the Academy building in the heart of Berlin.

Host of the audio station ‘Beats of City Life’ was AGYA Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. Verena Lepper:

“This mixture of sounds demonstrates how people live in cities and how it influences them – sometimes in a good way, sometimes not. Listen to the atmosphere of sounds that surround us. We don’t often do that. What is typical of all urban soundscapes, no matter the continent? And what is specific to or characteristic for cities such as Berlin or Cairo? The AGYA soundscape composition will enhance our understanding of the spaces we live in and will leave an impression on our perceptual habits in everyday life.”

Auditory experiences of urban sounds

The AGYA soundscape composition features recognizable urban sounds in the form of electroacoustic music. The composition invokes associations, memories or imagination related to the soundscape of the cities presented. The DJs' and DJanes' intimate knowledge of the specific urban context influences the composition at all levels and transforms the urban sounds into an artistic expression increasing the level of abstraction.

The artistic mixes are presented in a unique soundscape composition without announcing which track belongs to which city. We kindly invite you to listen to the soundscape composition and then guess. The riddle will be solved in the outro of the track.

How sounds become visible

An exhibit complemented each listening station at the salon. The AGYA listening station had a prime position in front of the academy at the entrance to the Salon, where President of the BBAW Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Christoph Markschies personally received all visitors of the Salon Sophie Charlotte 2021. AGYA Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. Verena Lepper warmly welcomed the guests at the AGYA listening station – and gave one or the other hint to solve the riddle posed by the AGYA exhibit.

At the audio station, the city sounds were visualized by their corresponding waves in 3-D prints. The visitors of the Salon Sophie Charlotte 2021 were invited to listen to the soundscape composition while contemplating the waves. Many guests indeed recognized the different cities enjoying both the inspiring soundscape composition and unique object d’art on display, designed and produced specifically for the occasion.

The exhibit was produced in the FabLab of the Helmut-Schmidt-Universität in Hamburg. AGYA member Dr. Sonja Buxbaum-Conradi supervised the conversion of the 2D waves into a 3-D modell and conducted the print of the object with her team at the FabLab.

Presenting the five sound artists:

Nour Sokhon, Beirut

Oskar Kirsch (DJ Jimi Handtrix), Berlin

Jacqueline George, Cairo

Farah A. Bishara (DJ Bonita), Kuwait City

Seifeddine Ben Ali, Tunis


Soundscape: Beats of City Life

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Date and Venue

04-05 September 2021
Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), Berlin, Germany