New York City with new ears

This week I went on John Luther Adams’ Soundwalk 9:09 Uptown. It is a soundwalk that navigates listeners on the journey from The Met Breuer to The Met Fifth Avenue, which is an estimated walk of 9 minutes and 9 seconds. There is no narration on the track but instead a serious of chimes and music. I chose this piece rather than the other soundwalks recommended because I was curious to explore how the abstract sounds would overlap with my own imagination and thoughts:

As I begin my journey, I become entranced by the mellow sounds and hums of the music. I feel as if I am teleported into a new dimension. The soundtrack reminds me of a sci-fi movie, where I am walking through an intergalactic version of civilization. The familiar streets of Madison Avenue fade out of focus as I turn my attention to the sounds that seep past my headphones. All of the sounds that encapsulate New York City’s landscape – such as cars honking, people talking, and the low rumble of the subway – are no longer the background noise I unconsciously ignore. They are heightened as the new background sounds are the tones provided by John Luther Adams. I hear snippets of muffled conversations, two dogs barking, and a coffee shop door opening and closing. I notice what I am noticing and try to understand their relevance. Is there a pattern or underlying theme to this melting pot of urban sounds? Or is the just an orchestra of noises that characterize the eclectic culture that is embodied by New Yorkers? I let these thoughts flow through me. As I reach the Met Fifth Avenue, the soundtrack ends and the momentary silence is replaced with the full volume of human traffic as tourists rush up the stairs to the museum.


Overall, I really enjoyed the piece and I felt that it made me aware of the rhythms and melodies that are present in my everyday life. After our first class, I have become more conscious of the sounds that surround me and how often times we can take for granted our sense of hearing. I am grateful for the experience and the opportunity to participate in the creative space within NYU ITP.

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