Sound Walk

For the sound walk, I spent an hour wandering the streets of my neighborhood, Chinatown and the Lower East Side/SOHO. One of the spots filled with the most cacophony and intricate sounds was the stairwell of my apartment. In the five flights I walk up, I heard various pots clanging together, breaking the air harshly, coupled with the shouts of various dialects of Chinese, harmoniously mingling with the patter of footsteps frantically coming down the stairs. The rats in the walls added a non-conformist rhythm to the mix of sounds. On the street outside, the sounds were amplified by the wind that was howling on this particular day, the hissing of a steam vent up the block and the rumble of cars slowly moseying down the street. Music, the whine of an east Asian instrument floods the air, rising above the honks and revved engines down Chrystie St. Chinese chatter again saturates the air nearby, coarse, rough shouts and the crinkling of cash traded. Scuttling and splashes of live crustaceans and fish break the exchanges. The honking of Bowery becomes dominant, cars speeding and breaks squeaking intermittent. The sounds alter drastically as SOHO approaches, unfamiliar tones of Chinese switch to listless English, loud, and intrusive. Tourists chortling about shopping, matched with the screaming silence of New Yorker’s, making no noise other than stomping on grates. A subway whips past below, the screeching momentarily deafening, with the muffled voice of the announcer jumping to join the city life. It’s amazing to hear the drastically different sounds of the city coming together to form some unnaturally synthesized symphony.