Listening Across Disciplines Workshop on Protocols, Edinburgh University

Listening Protocols

Listening Across Disciplines has an interesting research idea at the basis of their project, related to “listening protocols“, which are aimed to “help stablish and legitimize listening as a reliable research methodology across disciplines”.

Historically, benefits of listening have been neglected in most disciplines due to its perceived unreliability. Recently there has been a marked sonic turn across the arts and humanities, with a growing interest in sound and listening. However, in science, despite evidence of a broad interest in sound, listening is used mainly as a qualitative process, considered to lack legitimacy and viewed as subjective and peripheral to established data analysis methods, and being in need of technological (visual) verification.

In response, a core part of the research project is dedicated to the development of ‘listening protocols’ that 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. Such protocols are derived from practice and the observation of practice, and take the form of an instructive document that while providing a shareable framework retain space for the contingency and unrepeatability of sound.

The project’s directors Salomé Voegelin and Mark Peter Wright recently visited Sound Studies Lab, directed by Holger Schulze. They shared their respective listening protocols and specially how listening is employed as a research method, resulting in a question around Schulze’s listening protocol at his Lab, which he kindly shared online, as follows:

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.

You can download it on PDF also.

More at Listening Across Disciplines | Sound Studies Lab

Protocols tag at LAD

Miguel Isaza M

Listener, speaker.