- The Soundscape of Wrocław: Research on the Acoustic Environment of a Central European City
- The Soundscapes of Wrocław and Lviv: Comparative Studies
- The Alternative Sound Guide to Dzierżoniów
- The Axiosemiotics of Sheet Music
The Soundscape of Wrocław: Research on the Acoustic Environment of a Central European City
“The Soundscape of Wrocław” was first such a comprehensive study of soundscape conducted so far in Poland. The results of the research are – the monographic book edited by Robert Losiak and Renata Tańczuk, the archive and the sound map. The project was realized from 2011 to 2014 by a multi-disciplinary research group that included culture scholars and musicologists from the Studio as well as invited scholars – for example an ethnomusicologist and a historian. However, the history of the studies goes back to 2004 when Robert Losiak started his research on soundscapes of Wrocław.
The methodological approach of “The Sounds of Wrocław” project has at least three key sources: the critical reinterpretation of the ideas introduced by Raymond Murray Schafer, the achievements of contemporary sound studies and the theory of culture proposed by the scholars from the Institute of Cultural Studies in Wrocław. We believe that the studies of soundscape should be multidimensional that’s why our research on Wrocław’s soundscapes consisted of three equivalent parts: a descriptive study and an audio documentation of the sonic environment of the city, a characterization of the sonic artefacts of Wrocław, and a reception study of the soundscapes of Wrocław based on qualitative research methods.
The Soundscapes of Wrocław and Lviv: Comparative Studies
The comparative study of the soundscapes of Wrocław and Lviv took place and 2010 and was conducted in cooperation between the University of Wrocław and the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv. Its aim was for Polish and Ukrainian to perform a comparative study of the soundscapes of Wrocław and Lviv within the context of the partnership between the cities. The overarching goal was to define the sonic characteristics of Wrocław and Lviv with particular emphasis on the similarities and differences between them stemming from cultural, civilizational, geographical, and natural differences. The method selected was auditive field research on each city’s soundscape conducted in parallel by visiting researchers from the partner city. The research objective was defined as searching for sonically intriguing spaces, sound signals, soundmarks, and paying attention to sonic similarities and differences from the point of view of an out-of-towner unfamiliar with the local soundscape. This included making photographic, written, and video documentation. Creating maps for sound walks around both cities was also planned. The project was complemented with pilot surveys among students of the universities in Wrocław and Lviv on their reception of their cities’ soundscapes. The project succeeded partially – only the research in Lviv, performed between 2011 and 2014 by Robert Losiak, took place. In addition to the numerous recordings and descriptions, the project resulted in an article by R. Losiak, titled Audiosfera miast. Projekt badań porównawczych Wrocławia i Lwowa (City soundscapes. A proposal for a comparative study of Wrocław and Lviv). It was published in the Ukraine (Вісник Львівського університету. Серія мистецтвознавство. Вип. 14, Львів, 2014) and Poland (I. Topp, P.J. Fereński (eds.), Dialogi uniwersyteckie: O nauce, tradycji i przyszłości w wielokulturowym świecie, Wrocław 2014). The results were also presented during university lectures and academic conferences in Wrocław (2012) and Lviv (2011, 2015).
An Alternative Sound Guide to Dzierżoniów
The research aimed at creating an alternative sound guide to Dzierżoniów took place in 2014 as a part of the “Art in the space of culture” course taught as a part of the cultural studies major at the University of Wrocław by Robert Losiak. Working on the guide was a cognitive experiment within the context of urban soundscape research, which is why the guide is referred to as “alternative”. The idea behind the guide was to stay open to the city’s soundscape and avoid limiting the search to the sonic environment understood as a real space, but rather to refer to all sonic (and musical) artifacts which are in some way associated with Dzierżoniów and are present in the broadly understood media and culture. The task of the student research group was to penetrate all (including the small and ephemeral) sonic phenomena in selected areas of the city, which included both public spaces and the media (radio, television, newspapers, the internet). Project artifacts include archived sound recordings, photos, and written analyses on selected topics, such as the bells of Dzierżoniów, the sounds of the train station, the soundscape of a local park, the soundscape of churches, the soundscape of selected cafés and restaurants, sound descriptions of selected streets in the city center, cemeteries, the local Radio Sudety, as well as of websites about Dzierżoniów (such as the city’s official website and the websites of the local community center and music school). The project also resulted in an article published in Prace Kulturoznawcze XVII (Wrocław 2015) by R. Losiak: Przewodniki dźwiękowe w kontekście soundscape studies. W stronę koncepcji alternatywnego przewodnika dźwiękowego Dzierżoniowa (Sound guides in the context of soundscape studies. Towards an alternative audio guide to Dzierżoniów).
Although the research project has not yielded the expected result of publishing an accessible sound guide to Dzierżoniów, one may be published in the future, perhaps as a part of the planned research on the soundscape of Lower Silesia.
The Axiosemiotics of Sheet Music
The goal of the project is to document Polish sheet music from the 19th and 20th centuries and analyze their iconic layer as a representation of music and lyrics and a form of advertising. We look at sheet music as a medium of meaning and values which, when analyzed, uncovers the changes in aesthetic and musical preferences, as well as the reception of ideas of gender, national identity, and foreign cultures. The planned result is a database of Polish sheet music from the aforementioned period and an academic publication summarizing the research.