WEEKLY

THE SOUND OF CITY
聽見城市的聲音

是時候輕閉雙眼,豎起你的耳朵了!置身於熙來攘往的大城市裏,我們習以為常地戴上耳機,享受片刻的安寧。無可否認,外面的世界令人心煩意亂,恨不得馬上逃到世外桃源。可是,你有試過花一分鐘傾聽自然環境譜出的音樂嗎?有甚麼聲音能夠代表你所在的地方?今期Chessman Post將簡單介紹「音景」(Soundscape)的概念,希望大家嘗試用聲音了解城市的面貌。

若要形容一盞行人交通燈,我們通常會以視覺出發,譬如說它有紅、綠兩種顏色,而當綠色人像的燈號閃動之際,便是行人停下步伐之時。甚少有人會聯想到交通燈的節奏及停頓的規律。我們往往注意到的聲音,都是來自周遭環境的噪音,包括「砵」的車輛響號,又或者地盤工人用電鑽鑿地的巨響。然而,值得我們留意的聲音絕非只有噪音,因每一種聲音均有其獨特的個性。淅瀝的雨聲、呼嘯的海風、沙沙作響的落葉,也在建構不同的空間,形成變化萬千的城市音景。早在1970年代起,加拿大學者R. Murray Schafer已開始進行「音景」的研究,他初步把音景分類為:自然音、人工音,以及涵蓋歷史及社會文化的記憶音等,更在瑞典、德國、意大利、法國、蘇格蘭展開「世界音景計畫」(World Soundscape Project),採集和比較各種聲音。他亦致力消除「噪音」的想法,鼓勵人們應著重改善音景設計,從而令聲音環境更加悅耳。

自R. Murray Schafer提出音景的概念後,不少人開始學習用聲音去感知世界的脈絡。1993年,World Forum of Acoustic Ecology成立,來自世界各地的學者共同探討「聲音生態學」的議題。同年,「日本音景學會」組成,日本的環境廳亦進而公開招募「日本音景百選」,讓聲音變成文化財產,見證時代的變迭。相比之下,香港人和澳門人對音景的意識較為薄弱。不過,其實香港有一個名為「聲音圖書館」的網絡空間,內有香港各個地方的錄音,讓人以聲音認識本土文化。

儘管我們不常把聲音當作一種文化象徵,但在這世界的某個角落,有人正在用聲音留下旅行的所見所聞,也有人以聲音記錄社會運動的過程。我試過拿着錄音筆遊走觀塘的大排檔,錄下鐵鑊的鏗鏘聲、人們點菜時的呼叫聲、碗碟的碰撞聲……光聽這些錄音,就能感受到熱鬧的氣氛。有一次,我更隻身走到坪洲錄音,期間有半小時,我只是靜靜地坐在海邊,細聽海水拍打岸邊的聲音。聽起來有點無聊,但想深一層,為甚麼我們一定要用視覺去感受環境呢?即使是所謂「無聲」的環境,也充斥了各種微小的聲音。就如美國音樂家John Cage的樂曲《4分33秒》,當中沒有任何樂器演奏,因為室外吹着的微風、觀眾的交頭接耳的聲音等,都構成了樂曲本身。生活中本來就隨機播放着很多美妙的聲音,只是我們並未發覺。

當你能聽見越多聲音,你感受到的空間將會從此不一樣,而你觀看事物的角度亦會隨之而變化。趁着晴朗的假日,來一個「soundwalk」,或許能令你再次愛上你的城市。

撰文:王以珞
美術:王曉澄

It’s time to close your eyes and prick up your ears! Living in cosmopolitan cities brimming with busy people, we have become acclimated to wearing earphones to enjoy a moment of peace. Undoubtedly, the outside world is too overwhelming for us to cope with, and we always want to escape from it. But have you ever tried to listen to the music composed by the surrounding environment? Can you think of any sound that best represents the place where you are living in? In this issue of Chessman Post, I would like to introduce the concept of “soundscape” to you, and I hope you will understand how the sounds of a city reveal its personality.

If we are asked to show what the pedestrian traffic lights are, we would probably describe them visually. For example, we would say there are two colors, namely red and green, and the flashing “Green man” means we have to stop crossing the road. Very seldom do we hear people describing the traffic lights with its acoustic signal. We can, however, notice the noise of the surrounding environment, including the vehicle horns and the sound of manual workers doing the excavation works. Nevertheless, we should also pay attention to sounds other than the cacophony. The patter of rain, the whoosh of wind, as well as the rustling of leaves, constituent the soundscapes of our cities. Early in the 1970s, R. Murray Schafer, a Canadian scholar, began to do the research on soundscape. He first divided sounds into a few categories, including natural and artificial sound, plus the sounds associated with our memories. He even started the “World Soundscape Project” in Sweden, Germany, Italy, France and Scotland by collecting and comparing the sounds. Besides, he also made endeavor in eliminating the concept of “noise” and encourage people to focus on acoustic urban design so as to make the surrounding sounds more pleasant to ears.

As R. Murray Schafer suggested the concept of soundscape, many people start to perceive the world using sounds. In 1993, World Forum of Acoustic Ecology was established, where a number of scholars gathered together to discuss the issue of “acoustic ecology”. In the same year, the “Soundscape Association of Japan” was established, and the Ministry of the Environment of Japan also designated the “100 Soundscapes of Japan” a few years later. Compared to people of other countries, the citizens of Hong Kong and Macau are less aware of the soundscapes. But there is an online platform called “The Library by soundpocket”, which aims at telling stories of Hong Kong by different sounds.

Though we do not always take a sound as a cultural symbol, some people in the world actually do sound recording instead of taking photos during their trips, while some people do the same to remember the process of social movements. I have some experiences on sound recording during my spatial trajectory too. I brought a recorder along with me and captured all the sounds in a food stall (dai pai dong) in Kwun Tong, such as the sounds of cooking and people talking. I can feel the atmosphere of the food stall whenever I listen to the recordings. And I also went to Peng Chau alone before, using the recorder to record the sound of waves for half an hour. As silly and meaningless as it might seem, I think it is important to perceive the world with sounds. Even in a silent environment, you can hear a lot of different sounds—there is no absolute silence, indeed. John Cage, an American composer and music theorist, had a renowned piece called 4’33’’. During the entire duration of this piece of music, the performers did not play their instruments, not even a second. Out of our expectations, the whistling sound of wind, together with the audience's behavior, whispers and movements, composed this piece of music. This piece of music reminds us that there are many amazing sounds in our daily lives that we do not notice.

When you try to listen to the sounds of the environment, you will experience more pleasure in your life, and you will see things from new perspectives. Let’s go for a simple “soundwalk”, and take a stroll with a focus on exposing our ears to what is happening around us!

Text: Elok Wong
Art: Agnes Wong

ISSUE #226

THE SOUND OF CITY

 

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