Sensing the City - Mapping the Beat. A rhythmanalysis of music-making in Wellington and Copenhagen
The idea of rhythm has figured as a key conceptual and empirical motif in current research on (urban) space, place and everyday life. Urban spaces are considered polyrhythmic fields, a compound of varied everyday life and spatial rhythms, which produce a particular, but ever-changing, complex mix of heterogeneous social interactions, mobilities, imaginaries and materialities (Edensor 2010). Music-making in the city therefore constitutes and is constituted by a plurality of urban rhythms including the movement between different locations as well as regular temporal patterns of events, activities, experiences and practices as well as energies, objects, flora and fauna which shape the music-maker’s mundane ‘pathways’ through the city. Based on current ethnographic fieldwork in the urban spaces of Wellington (Aotearoa/New Zealand), and Copenhagen (Denmark) this project proposes a way of capturing, understanding and interpreting the multi-faceted rhythmical layout of urban spaces. It will do so by introducing a rhythmanalytical methodology, which draws on interviews, participant generated photographs and mental maps as analytical tools for capturing the interwovenness of socialities, atmospheres, object, texts and images in people’s everyday lives and in this way affords opportunities for attending to the multiple rhythms underlying music-making in the city. The use of cartographic and photographic means of representing these rhythmical dimensions allows us to better attend to an affective register that is often overlooked in studies of music-making. It makes visible some of the ways in which places, from the home to the studio to the performance venue and points in-between form a connective tissue, which anchors the music-makers to the city as well as lends the city its ambience, and, more importantly, its affective charge. As such, the manner in which mood, feeling, a “sense of place,” is evoked through the visual representation of music-makers’ everyday life suggests how the scenic aspects of the city work to simultaneously frame, mediate and facilitate meaningful experiences of place. Consequently, this study documents, through a unique medley of research methods, the way in which music-making serves as a vehicle for the social production of place and the creation of an affective attachment to that place both individual and collective.