Sonorous Background

sonorous desert city

Tucson is a sonically resonate city surrounded by the Sonoran Desert --- a sonorous desert ---- with a unique and often under-appreciated sound ecology.

Tucson’s overall tone or audible fingerprint is directly attributable to its unique blend of wildlife, architecture, culture, commerce and geographic location.

The Sonorous Desert City Project: Suite I-III seeks to reacquaint Tucson (and newly acquaint the rest of the world) with our shared aural landscape through a series of listening performances and a limited edition recording.

In this age of rapid information distribution, virtual everything and earbuds, The Sonorous Desert City Project will promote taking time to simply unplug and listen to the world around us, to reconnect and explore our roles in this radiant soundscape, hearing the sacred in the mundane and the profound in the prosaic, all of which is not only healthy for our minds and spirits but also fosters a sense of place and connection.

Tucson is going through a period of rapid change. With new buildings, demographics and modes of transportation come new sounds. What did Tucson sound like 50 years ago? At this crossroads in our sonic history, The Sonorous Desert City Project will also serve as a historical “sound postcard” of Tucson during a six-month period in 2013.

Here is how The Sonorous Desert City Project timeline unfolded :

July 1 through December 31: The Sonorous Desert City Project begins with a series of “soundings” made over a six month period in three primary Tucson locations: Downtown Tucson, Reid Park and The University of Arizona campus.

These soundings or field recordings, will be mapped with location, date and other information. Some will be straight recordings of sound which is audible without amplification and others will be an exploration of the hidden sounds revealed by utilizing custom-made microphones and other equipment.

The map below will be updated on a regular basis with 2-3 minute sound samples from various locations as the project unfolds.

January through March: The full collected soundings will serve as “instrumental performances” and then be “composed” into a single audio-work, approximately one hour in length, which will organically bring the listener through the city via a three part suite sonic narrative.

Unlike works where found sounds are transposed into traditional musical notation for recreation on traditional instruments, The Sonorous Desert City Project will be a uniquely innovative and pioneering composition featuring Tucson as both the performer and the instrument.

The “score” for this work will be organized as a chronological timeline allowing the listener to access information about what it is they are hearing and permitting recreation of the work --- as much as possible --- if they so choose via soundwalks.

April: The Sonorous Desert City Project recording, along with detailed liner notes about the process, the score, photos and a map will be finalized and packaged as a limited edition cd.

May-June: Following the completion of the recording, three 45 minute soundwalks will be held at different city locations recreating each part of the suite.

As envisioned for this project, a soundwalk is a predetermined guided route through sonically interesting locations where participants will “conduct” Tucson and determine their personal listening experience through such variables as location, position and awareness.

The events will begin with a discussion about The Sonorous Desert City Project sound and listening. All who participate in these free events will receive a cd and complimentary literature.

The Sonorous Desert City Project is a direct evolutionary link tying together many of sonicanta's previous ideas, projects, recordings and events into a singular whole.

It is important to remember, sound is a neuropsychological interpretation of vibration. Because sound is vibration interpreted by the listener, cultural and personal biases often ghettoize the vast majority of sounds in our world as “noise” or “nonmusical.”

Also, music does not exist.

Rather there are fundamental building blocks such as loudness, pitch, etc. which when organized are considered to be “music” by the individual.

This is why one person’s “music” is another persons “noise” and vice-versa.  The Sonorous Desert City Project will explore the potential to hear beyond the boundaries of culture and training, challenging negative perceptions and fostering new understanding.

By housing Tucson’s soundscape within the parameters of a “soundwalk” rather than a musical performance, it is hoped participants will be open to investigating and appreciating the musical possibilities of what they might otherwise deem as noise or inconsequential.

Ideally they may also discover they are active participants in this “Tucson orchestra” as “musicians,” “composers,” and “conductors.”

A little more listening can never hurt, and perhaps when The Sonorous Desert City Project is completed people will find a bit more beauty in Tucson than they knew was there before and perhaps they will discover how important their part is in this orchestra of sound.