Place is the Space: An Overview of NON:op’s Aural Neighborhoods Sound Trails

by Allen Moore

Place: a particular position or point in space. 

  1. a portion of space available or designated for or being used by someone
  2. put in a particular position

Space: the unlimited or incalculably great three-dimensional realm or expanse in which all material objects are located and all events occur.

  1. the portion or extent of this in a given instance; extent or room in three dimensions
  2. to fix the space or spaces of; divide into spaces

What exactly defines a place? How does one come to “know” a space? Is it growing up in a particular neighborhood, knowing it block by block? Is it simply spending time within that space, absorbing, researching, wandering? So many assumptions often made by people adjacent to a place. Why not experience “place and space”. 

The following represents a couple of very small snippets of an amazing journey. After reading this short post, I hope you take time to sample the recorded sounds and even more so, to experience walking through these sound enriched locations.

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Southeast Evanston Snippet: “Calvary Cemetery”

Walking through Calvary Cemetery was as tranquil as you would imagine, with so many nuanced layers of sound. Listen for shifts in the breeze, and if you’re lucky, you can pick up the echoes from the drainage system. Pay close attention to the rain in the distance and how the sound travels. You may get a bit of hum in your headphones, (presumably, interference from the power lines). I felt that I could actually hear what resting sounded like.

IMAGE: Calvary Catholic Cemetery
Image Credit: Allen Moore

Audio Credit: Allen Moore

Auburn-Gresham Snippet: “Train”

By far one of my favorite locations in Auburn Gresham. (81st and Wallace) If you have time, stand for a bit directly under the bridge and wait for the freight train. Focus on the beams, pay attention to the vibrations. Look for a puddle and take a moment to hear the water droplets. Gravity at its finest.
IMAGE: Train overpass at 81st and Wallace
Image Credit: Allen Moore

Audio Credit: Allen Moore

In today’s world, a walk outside means so much more than it did a year ago. I’m hoping for some semblance of normality to return one day, except, I hope we can learn the lesson of appreciation from our natural world. Space as we knew it, changed forever in March of 2020.

A word of sincere, sound advice: to know a space, take a step back, isolate particular happenings. Be mindful of the time and the day, the people and the place. I promise you, it’s absolutely grounding.

To find out more about Aural Neighborhoods and to listen to more audio clips from Auburn Gresham and Southeast Evanston visit the Aural Neighborhoods webpage.

To find out more about Allen Moore visit his website or his soundcloud.

Aural Neighborhoods: OHC Soundwalks, October 16-25

The economic disparities between different Chicago neighborhoods have been clearly identified and displayed in community activist and photographer Tonika Johnson’s Folded Map Project. From the perspective of sound and the field of acoustics, are these inequalities also apparent? For example, is the soundscape different in Lincoln Park and Englewood; Austin and the Gold Coast? How is it different and why? How does economic investment or de-investment affect the sound of a neighborhood? NON:op Open Opera Works’ Christophe Preissing and artist Allen Moore partner with Chicago Architecture Center’s Open House Chicago to consider these questions.

Aural Neighborhoods is adapted for social distancing with self-guided outdoor soundwalks in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood and southeast Evanston. These communities were selected because they are approximately the same distance from Chicago’s loop, and they include sonic points of interest that roughly mirror each other in geography and content. The OHC2020 app—available on October 14—includes clearly marked sound trails, and information and brief recordings to learn more about the unique sound markers in each neighborhood.


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If you would like to comment on Aural Neighborhoods you may do so below. If you would like to find out more about each sound trail or the individual sites, click HERE. If you would like share your experience of either sound trail—in words, audio, video, or still images—please contact non [at] nonopera [dot] org. We look forward to hearing from you.