In recent months, Salomé Voegelin and Mark Wright, directing the impressive project Listening Across Disciplines visited me and my team here at the Sound Studies Lab. They discussed with us our research approaches, our ways of developing research focuses, applying methods, and publishing research results.
However, they focused primarily on how we employ listening as a research method. Towards the end of our conversations, they asked each of us to outline our individual listening protocol: they »organise and articulate listening in a way that is useful and adaptable to various disciplines, enabling and legitimising sonic processes and materialities as part of research and knowledge production.« This is what I wrote:
Listening as a research activity follows six steps in my work:
spacing, timing, embodying, intervening, performing and transmitting.
1. Spacing: In a first step I try to get a notion and an idea of all the material sensory qualities of this very precise and spatialized listening situation in which I am situated right now: the distribution of the auditory dispositive, the state of my sensory corpus, and the quality of all the sonic personae present or performed.
2. Timing: In a second step I try to follow the specific dynamics and timing inherent to this sound experience, its flow or stopping, its vortexes and excitements.
3. Embodying: In the third step I try to embody and to identify with these sonic materials present in this situation – in their particular spacing and timing characteristics. This particular step brings my listening as research very close to ethnographic fieldwork practices.
4. Intervening In the fourth step I will make an effort to intervene, to follow the sonic flux, to actually take part in this sonario, to reach out into a perceptual and affective mimesis, to expand and further the sonic fiction presented to me.
5. Performing: In the fourth step I craft a performance of this listening experience – be it in written form, in an oral or audiovisual presentation or even in an impromptu recalling of all the qualities mentioned above.
6. Transmitting: In the fifith and last step the insights, observations and descriptions I recorded can then be presented on a given media stage – be it a course, a conference or workshop, an academic article, an essay , be it a radio or a podcast conversation or even a research monograph.
These five steps seem to allow me to get potentially a certain access to the idiosyncratic qualities of the sonic events I encounter – and to my listening experience that grants me the chance to encounter it.
They constitute for me the idiosyncrasy as method.