Frauke Behrendt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


This chapter gives a systematic and interdiciplinary overview of research, practice and histories of soundwalking. It also proposes a new and inclusive definition of soundwalking that pays particular attention to media in relation to mobility. After a definition of soundwalking, the chapter considers the educational and pedagogical aspects of soundwalks, soundwalks as method for urban planning as well as the artistic and qualitative aspects of soundwalks, followed by a conclusion. Soundwalks combine a specific form of human mobility – walking – with a specific way of sensory attention – listening, and do so in a variety of ways and with a range of purposes, while often featuring elements of talking, silence, and media. This definition proposed in this chapter is wide, including mobile listening practices where walkers wear headphones to listen to or engage with sound from media devices in addition to listening to their soundscape. Soundwalking can be understood as research and practice that is not about sound but in sound, as well as not about walking but in walking. Soundwalking is a spatio-temporal, embodied, situated, multi-sensory and mobile practice. Soundwalks are used across a wide range of academic disciplines as well as artistic/creative practices, including as method, tool, and methodology.The concept and history of soundwalks is closely related to the soundscape concept, the history of acoustic ecology and considerations of listening. This chapter discusses how over time, soundwalks have been considered and used by an increasing range of research and practice fields, including sound art, media studies, sound studies, urban planning, social science. While the key components of a soundwalk are listening to sounds and being mobile by walking, this chapter discusses the great variety when it comes to the detail of components such as the location, length, and route of the walk, as well as the sounds focussed on, the group size of the listeners, the ration of walking and being stationary, the use of media for recording or playing back sound, the amount of talking, and of course the aim of the soundwalk. The wide range of soundwalking practices and discussions presented throughout the chapter show how soundwalks are used in a wide range of academic and artistic ways. Pedagogical and educational aspects of soundwalks are at the heart of the practice and help to spread the word about them further. Urban planning is an example of how the practice of soundwalking has been used as a more formal method or tool in the context of planning, design and policy.The qualitative and artistic aspects of soundwalks illustrate the diversity of creative and academic practices around soundwalking. The conclusion proposes elements of a future research agenda of soundwalking, including discussions in health and wellbeing and around media - appreciating for the constantly evolving world of media media informs, shapes and changes our practices and experiences of walking, listening and interaction with soundscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Sound Studies
EditorsMichael Bull
ISBN (Electronic)9781315722191
ISBN (Print)9781138854253
Publication statusPublished - 8 Nov 2018


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