Sonic Experiments: Three Tokyo Pieces


Combining elements of sonic ethnography, actor network theory, and digital music composition, these are explorations of Tokyo in the mode of the digital flâneur - ransacking the city for fragments, capturing urban ambiences and rhythms as they twist, layer and sound out.

core methods

Sonic ethnography Digital music composition Sampling Auto-ethnography Photography

Methodological Challenges and Questions

The audio ethnographer makes on-the spot decisions as they drift and navigate the city about what might be interesting, representative and relevant. They have to listen well, of course, but they also need to collect, itemise and catalogue sonic fragments and, in my case, turn these fragments into compositions that might communicate something interesting about the city. Should we combine or keep in tension social scientific and "artistic" ways of seeing the city? What is it to compose the urban using digital technologies that both log, code and imagine it at the same time? And what does a vending machine sound like?


An Olympus digital audio recorder for sound Telephone coil pickup mic for recordings of electro-magnetic waves iPhone 6 for visuals Cubase and Reason for music composition NI Maschine Jam for performance Powerpoint for presentation


Nick Prior, and Hitomi Kobayashi who helped collect the sounds and walked around Tokyo live streaming the sounds at the same as they were leached and "performed" in Edinburgh

Listen to the Tokyo pieces: Jihanki, Voices of AkihabaraTokyo After Hours