Sound and Place: An Affective Geography of the Hudson River, New York, USA
Sciuchetti, Mark Joseph (author)
Mesev, Victor (professor directing dissertation)
Von Glahn, Denise, 1950- (university representative)
Doel, Ronald Edmund (committee member)
Florida State University (degree granting institution)
College of Social Sciences and Public Policy (degree granting college)
Department of Geography (degree granting department)
Sonic experiences of a place are both personal and collective. They are derived from affectual encounters in that place in the everyday. The sounds of a place provide detail on the culture, development, and environment. Geographers have often overlooked the role of individual experiences with sound in places for developing our perspective on natural spaces. The visual has offered geographers a great deal of material and meaning in terms of the study of the landscape and personal connections to place. This focus on the material, concrete, and visual aspects of society has often denied the sense of hearing. However, sound is part of embodied everyday experience of places and cannot be separated from affectual experiences or the spaces in which sound is heard. This contributes to shaping culture. Though research into the soundscape and sonic experiences has been the focus in various disciplines, research in geography is lacking an appreciation of the role of place in exploring sonic experiences. The role of sound and music in geography often takes the form of production and distribution of music and its economics and politics. But with little attention to the role of the sound or affect. Therefore, this dissertation sheds light on the role of the soundscape and the spatiality of sound in the construction of place. It also explores the role that affectual encounters in natural everyday spaces have on the individual and their place development. As a starting point, the dissertation seeks to develop a theoretical framework underpinned by geography, musicology, and sound studies to help describe the affective capacity of sound in place. Developing the concept of affect beyond the traditional realm of non-representational theory, the dissertation incorporates concepts of emotion and affect to explain the development of place through sound. Reaching into various theoretical frameworks, including behavioral geography, sonic geography, geography of music, representational theory, non-representational theory, participant observation, and reflexivity, it creates a more unified conceptualization of everyday sonic experiences of place by developing an approach which moves affective sonic encounters beyond the representational. These theoretical underpinnings are demonstrated by an empirical multi-modal approach to the study of sound in place. It uses a case study that provides a vehicle to explore how affect and emotion are experienced in nature through sound and place using sound journals, historical/archival data, sound recordings, and participatory observation. The fieldwork was conducted while sailing along the Hudson River in the US state of New York during the summer of 2017. The sites where data were collected complement those recorded by Annea Lockwood for her composition, A Sound Map of the Hudson River (1983). The archival material on texts written about the river was found from various historical sources, and interviews were provided by Lockwood. The locations chosen for recording sounds include various cultural, social, economic, industrial and environmental developments along the river. The recordings from Lockwood's CD and the six interviews she conducted in 1982 offer a starting point to describe the construction of place through sound. The four journals collected with crewmembers of the Gail Frances on the river as well as my own observations from the Hudson River provide a better conceptualization of participants' affective experiences through sound as they are immersed in the places they describe. The historical interviews and recordings from 1982 were paired with the journals and recordings from 2017 to emphasize how sound of the natural environment elicits powerful affective experiences that molds an individual's sense of place. Through the participants' interviews and journals, it is clear that there are some aspects of the soundscape that have become essential to the discussion of a place and often recreate a sense of nostalgia with almost a spiritual sensation. Other aspects of the sounds of the places along that Hudson River remind participants of the divisions between the human and the natural environments, and that there are different perspectives to the river depending on an individual's approach. The participants' encounters also carried a common theme of everyday experience and survival as these were individuals who depended upon the river. From these interviews, journals, and recordings, it is clear that one role of space and sound is in mediation of the affective encounters that individuals endure in place, which inspires emotional experiences. My study demonstrates that sound is an essential aspect of the experience of place and can be explored geographically, thus providing a framework for future research and an empirical, geographical examination of individual sonic experiences within a natural environment.
Cultural Geography, Environment, Hudson River, Identity, Place, Sound
May 3, 2019.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Geography in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Victor Mesev, Professor Directing Dissertation; Denise Von Glahn, University Representative; Ronald Doel, Committee Member; Tyler McCreary, Committee Member.
Florida State University