The Cries of London (portfolio)

The Cries of London: On costers, pedlars, hawkers, fishwives, tinkers and barrow boys (2020) book chapter in Sonic Urbanism: the Political Voice edited by George Kafka published by Theatrum Mundi and &Beyond Collective (4,260 words). Weblink:

This chapter was developed from an earlier paper presented at the 2019 Theatrum Mundi/IRIS (EHESS) Crafting Sonic Urbanism conference in Paris. The chapter reflects on the sociological and sonic history of the cries of street traders in London and draws them into a lineage that culminates with an overview of my 2017 sound work, The Cries of Columbia Road. In terms of significance, this chapter engages in an emergent area of practice, namely acoustic ecology and soundscape composition. Moreover, it is one of only a handful of texts that discusses The Cries of London within a musical context. As with The Cries of Columbia Road, the themes explored within this chapter will form part of an interdisciplinary AHRC Fellowship application to be submitted in Spring 2022. Please see The Cries of Columbia Road below for further details on the research underpinning this output.  

The Cries of Columbia Road (2017). Developed over a period of eight months, this 9-minute multichannel acousmatic composition premiered at Whitechapel Gallery with financial support from the University of Kent and School of Sound.

This work forms part of an ongoing series of electroacoustic compositions that draw upon the urban anthropophonic soundscape of London, entitled The Cries of London. Taking inspiration from the seventeenth-century works of the same title by Thomas Weelkes and Orlando Gibbons, this series centres on the human voice within the city, capturing vocalisations drawn from London’s street markets. At its core, this series responds to the presence of the voice within the city where changes in commerce, alongside the forces of inequality and privatisation of public spaces, threaten to ‘silence the speech of the city’ (Saskia Sassen 2013). In 2019, I presented a paper outlining the project at Crafting Sonic Urbanism Conference, Theatrum Mundi/IRIS, Paris, and latterly developed it into a book chapter (see The Cries of London above). In terms of originality and significance, this work contributes to an emergent field of composition, namely soundscape composition, that is gaining traction both within the academy and the wider public sphere. This series will be further expanded and feature as part of the Totally Thames Festival in London in 2023.