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article imageWhat does London sound like? Well, David Byrne has recorded it

By Tim Sandle     Mar 26, 2012 in Arts
London - Do cities have unique sounds? Does New York sound different from Paris? Musician David Byrne has recorded the sound of London as a special track, and concludes that the tempo of London is 122.86 beats per minute. Agree? Play the video to see.
The musician David Byrne, formerly the lead of Talking Heads, has recorded a unique ambient piece of music based on sounds he has come across as he wandered through London. The sound experiment fits with Byrne's latter day musical and creative projects.
As part of an art project called "A Room for London", Byrne spent two days in London wandering around recording sounds which interested him and which captured the mood and the feel of the city. From the study and eventual composition, Byrne concluded that the tempo of London is 122.86 beats per minute.
Discussing the project, Byrne said:
"I brought along some field recording gear to use while I was staying in the lovely pod/room/boat. I went out during the day and recorded sounds that I thought might be useful and evocative. It turned out that most of the sounds—even the church organ in Southwark Cathedral—seemed to converge around a common rhythm. It's a bit too good to be true—that every large city should have its own rhythm, but here it is. I let the sounds dictate the groove, the tempo, and then I simply played along."
The sounds he recorded included:
Strawberry seller: Borough Market
Train: Southwark
Woman Evangelist: Spitalfields Market
Organ: Southwark Cathedral
Jackhammer: near Waterloo
Footsteps: mine, embankment
Thames waves: near Surrey water
Byrne has called the composition "Get It Away".
As The Guardian reports, the "a room for London" projected is located on the south bank of the Thames. It is a one-bedroom installation, designed by David Kohn Architects in collaboration with Fiona Banner. It is, according to Living Architecture, "intended to offer guests a place of refuge and reflection amidst the flow of traffic at this iconic location in the capital".
A Room For London has more performances and residencies lined up for the coming months, featuring the likes of Laurie Anderson, Imogen Heap and Amadou and Mariam.
David Byrne was a founder member, lead singer and chief tune-smith for the innovative 'new wave' band Talking Heads who put out a string of innovative and challenging albums between 1977 and 1988. Since the demise of Talking Heads Byrne has achieved success as a solo artist, from rock and pop music, to Latin influenced music, to classical compositions and the more recent 'gospel' inspired pop collaboration with Brian Eno ("Everything That Happens Will Happen To Day"). In addition to music, Byrne has displayed conceptual artworks and 'curates' a record label which has championed unknown South American artists.
More about david byrne, London, talking heads, Cities, Music
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