Urbanist School #2 Sonic Fiction Workshop

Urbanist School #2 Sonic Fiction Workshop

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A workshop to learn techniques and concepts from sonic practices, and to co-create sonic fiction by connecting the urban sounds globally.

About this event

Can we detect a pattern in cities' sonic atmosphere? How can we record and describe it, and which tools can we use? How can we make something fun and creative from it?

As the second chapter of Urbanist School, for Cities and Sound of Nairobi presents a joint workshop, “Sonic Fiction Workshop” as an experiment in connecting various cities through their sound, music, and rhythms to imagine “elsewhere” beyond our present alienation. Through this experience, we aim to re-compose existing urban paradigms and structures incorporating techniques, concepts, and values from sonic practices by co-imagining what our cities could sound like in an imaginary world.

What is Urbanist School?

Urbanist School, organized by Tokyo-based design studio for Cities, is an education program to learn and acquire the skills necessary to become an urbanist of the next generation. Cities are becoming more and more diverse and complex, and urban actors who can work across disciplines with an innovative set of minds are needed to co-create the future of cities. Urbanist School provides various programs in multidisciplinary fields, both practical and theoretical, that are from 3 days of workshops to 6 weeks of intense courses. It is offered not only for urban professionals and practitioners, but also for people who are new to the subject.

Check out more about Urbanist School: https://www.forcities.org/school/

Read a report of Urbanist School #1 Tokyo Rhythm Analysis from here.

What is sonic fiction?

Holger Schulze, a professor in musicology at the University of Copenhagen says "Sonic fiction is everywhere. Where one can find sounds one will also detect bits of fiction." in his book Sonic Fiction (2020). In 1998, the music critic, DJ, and video essayist Kodwo Eshun proposed this concept in his book “More Brilliant Than The Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction”. Sonic fiction opens up the field of speaking about sound in general, reflecting individual sonic experiences and highlighting their stories in an imaginative manner.

In this workshop, we’ll learn the basics of sonic urbanism, soundscape, rhythm analysis, and other practices that involve sound and city. Moreover, we’ll learn how to produce sonic fiction through exchanging sounds from various cities around the world, creating a sonic fictional landscape.

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How does it work?

This workshop happens entirely online, and you can join from anywhere in the world as long as there is a sound there.

The program starts on the first day of every month, for a duration of 3 weeks. You can sign up anytime, any month you want, whenever you feel like learning.

In each week, you’ll get an email every day during the weekdays (thus, 5 exercises every week, except for the final week, which has only 3 exercises) with a daily school material (example below!)

  1. When you sign up, you’ll get a daily email starting from the first day of the next month. The email includes a letter, which is composed of texts, images, external links, a reading list, and daily exercises.
  2. You’ll have to complete a daily exercise and upload it on your social media with a specific hashtag.
  3. You'll have access to our community chat group, where our team and collaborators give you advice & give you feedback, exchange inspirations,
  4. The exercises range from the basic to the advanced. In the final week, you will work on creating your own sonic fiction by using the data collected from the previous weeks, as well as mixing it with the sound of a different city.
  5. Successful works will be exhibited at an exhibition organized by for Cities in Lagos, Nigeria in July 2022.
Urbanist School #2 Sonic Fiction Workshop image

Who is it for?

Anyone who

  • is interested in urbanism, architecture, and design
  • is interested in sound and music
  • is interested in learning the intersection between the two
  • is interested in learning the technical skills of field recording

This course is rather for beginners in the field, but if you are already a soundscaper and is interested in exchanging ideas & creating something new with like-minded creators from across the world. you are most welcome to sign up!


Week1: Knowing where you are / Introduction & data collection

  • What does it mean to analyze a city through its sonic environment?
  • Various methodologies and approaches
  • Case studies of various rhythms that surround our city
  • How to collect and record sound& rhythms
  • Urban sonic anthropology

Week2: Start collecting & exchanging

  • Analyze and visualize your data
  • Capture the rhythms and mood of your city
  • Start listening to & exchanging the sounds of another city

Week3: Composing sonic fiction

  • Leaning the power of fiction and storytelling
  • Create an original sound fiction by using the data collected from the previous weeks


Urbanist School #2 Sonic Fiction Workshop image

for Cities

for Cities is an urban experience design studio, as well as an international collective of urban practitioners and thinkers working in Asian cities and beyond. We provide an urban “repository” — an online idea bank — where emerging practitioners in the field of urbanism can showcase their practices and ideas. for Cities week is an annual global exhibition where we select the finest ideas from the platform and introduce them to a wider audience to co-learn how we can share actionable ideas globally while respecting local contexts. Our goal is to cultivate better, more just, more playable cities.

HP: https://www.forcities.org/

Urbanist School #2 Sonic Fiction Workshop image

Sound of Nairobi

SOUND OF NAIROBI is an open access archive of the sounds of the city. It is committed to employ sound as material that can be archived, researched and explored as a source of information that can narrate the history of the city, now and in the future. Further it aims to open up possibilities to develop new ways of knowledge production and nourish different ways of thinking. The core team currently is Raphael Kariuki, Sophia Bauer, Brian Muhia and Kamwangi Njue.

HP: https://soundofnairobi.net/

Kenta Tanaka (Collaborator)

Kenta Tanaka (°1993, Japan) is an urban composer, transdisciplinary sound artist, and guitarist. His work attempts to explore the possibilities of urban-themed compositions under the word “Urban Composition” by applying urban theories or phenomena in the fields of sound arts and experimental music. He focuses on demystifying the relationships between human beings and urban soundscapes through the approach of phenomenological listening. After completing his postgraduate in Sound Arts with European Postgraduate in Arts in Sound in Ghent, Belgium, he held “Urban Reminiscence — Sound, Object, and Rhythm” (2020), a sound installation recomposing memories of the city, at Sta., Tokyo. Recent works include “Fictional Soundscapes” (2021) for Encounter in Resonance at KIOSK Zwarte Zaal — Belgium, “Algorithmic Urban Composition” (2019) for Linux Audio Conference at Listening Room CCRMA Stanford — the United States.

Any questions?

Write to: info@forcities.org