Peculiar nocturnal animals

Last Summer I was lucky to be invited to work with fema group (Hanna Kahrola, Tuija Touhunen, Anna Kupari). I acted as a “conversational shoulder” in the group, discussing about soundscape, public space, feminist methodologies, situational knowledge, the night time, wolves, epidemics, things like that. I’m planning to write about what we did in more detail but in the meantime here’s a video showing one part of the working process.

This was filmed during September. Performers are Kahrola and Touhunen. Edit by yours truly.

“Talk to the machine: Listening to smart spaces” at Sound Environment Centre, Lund University

References to the lecture:

Bassett, Caroline & Ben Roberts 2019. Automation now and then: Automation fevers, anxieties and utopias. New Formations. DOI: 10.3898/newF:98.02.2019

Beer, David 2010. Mobile music, coded objects and everyday spaces. Mobilities 5: 4, 469–484. 

Bijsterveld, Karin 2018. Mechanical Sound. Technology, Culture, and Public Problems of Noise in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.

Bucher, Taina 2016. Neither black nor box. Ways of knowing algorithms. In Innovative methods in media and communication research, eds. Sebastian Kubitschko and Anne Kaun. Palgrave Macmillan. DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-40700-5_5

Crary, Jonathan 1999. Suspentions of perception: Attention, spectacle, and modern culture. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Hayles, Katherine 1999. How We Became Posthuman: virtual bodies in cybernetics, literature, and informatics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Kitchin, Rob & Dodge, Martin 2011. Code/Space. Software And Everyday Life. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Krivý, Maroš 2016. Towards a critique of cybernetic urbanism: The smart city and the society of control. Planning Theory. DOI: 10.1177/1473095216645631 

Kytö, Meri 2019. The senses and the city: Attention, distraction and media technology in urban environments. The Routledge companion to urban media and communication. Eds. Z. Krajina & D. Stevenson. London: Routledge, 371–378. DOI: 10.4324/9781315211633-39

Lahjoita puhetta 2020. Yle. URL:

Librivox 2014. Karel Capek: R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots). URL:

Männistö-Funk, Tiina & Tanja Sihvonen 2018. Voices from the Uncanny Valley. How Robots and Artificial Intelligences Talk Back to Us. Digital culture and society, 4: 1.

Paasonen, Susanna 2016. Fickle focus: Distraction, affect and the production of value in social media. First Monday, 21(10).

Parviainen, Jaana 2014. Mediakaupungin viettelyn logiikka ja kairoottiset silmänräpäykset. Media ja viestintä 37: 1

Saariketo, Minna 2020. Kuvitelmia toimijuudesta koodin maisemissa. Tampere: University of Tampere.

Santangelo, Marco 2016. A (more?) intelligent city. Noesis. DOI:

Thompson, Marie 2020. Music in the Post-Mom Economy. Keynote at RMA conference. Script of the lecture:

Tonight show with Jimmy Fallon 2017. With guest David Hanson and Sophia. URL:

Wiener, Norbert 1961. Cybernetics: or control and communication in the animal and the machine. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Christmas bingo playlist

Midsummers is two weeks away. What a perfect time to listen to the research material I gathered during last Christmas (sic!), during the 71 days of the #joululaulubingo (Christmas song bingo).

I will present a paper next week in the Urban-Related Sensoria: Environments, Technologies, Sensobiographies conference, see program here: Here’s my abstract:

‘Tis the season to do listening walks: A methodological approach to seasonal music and urban environments

The tradition of creating a Christmassy atmosphere in city space is a calendrical soundscape event spanning from late November to the end of December in various cities around the world, with different religious backgrounds. This paper focuses on the experience of Christmassy background music in Finnish towns. With local, contextual and changing expectations concerning timing, choice of music, volume, and temporary PA solutions, the public discussion around Christmas background music is vivid and often affective. The end of the year season is an exception in background music practices in the urban commercial space, and this makes it an interesting phenomenon to study as it points to changes in the accepted, overlooked and often willfully ignored musical environment in cities.

In this research Christmas background music is being studied as being an integral part of urban soundscapes, urban space and musical cultures in Finland. The methodology is a combination of sound diaries, listening walks and autoethnography. The preliminary data gathering method was to make note of all music identifiable as Christmas background music I personally heard in my daily life while in public or commercial space during November 1, 2019 to 10 January, 2020. I would detect the piece by using the Shazam mobile application (if possible) and make various notes on what I could hear. Another part of the data collecting method was to ask the public to “report” to me if they heard Christmas music while they were out in town. This material consists of numerous reports from acquaintances and members of the public of where and when they have heard music that they recognize as Christmas music and at times identification of the particular pieces of music. Reports were seldom neutral, but had a note on some aspect of the heard experience or even reports on not hearing any music. During 71 days I kept an online public diary on what I heard and what was reported to me. 

As often happens during ethnographic field research, what was anticipated to be encountered during the field work were not according to the researchers expectations. This study presents a reading of Christmas background music as a sonic ritual of decoration, of consumerist sensory agency, and of sensory labor.


I’m collating the list of songs from the material to a Spotify playlist (under construction, much more songs to be added).



Pandemia + Sound/Music + Environment: list of web content from Spring 2020 [and 2021]

This is a list of links to online content (audio, pictures, text, “media”) documenting and commenting on the sonic environment during Spring 2020. EDIT: Additions from Spring 2021 are in green.]

As there is a huge amount of content scattered in the web, this is not in any way close to being exhaustive but a resource and a memo you can use. Also as you can clearly see, the list reflects my place in the world (I live in Finland), my research interests, language skills and search engine algorithm bias.

If there is something you’d like to see on the list, please write a comment below.

Thank you for all who contributed to the list, much appreciated!

Corona sound map projects

  1. Radio Aporee Project Corona
  2. Cities and memory: #StayHomeSounds
  3. Covid-19 Sound Map by Pete Stollery:,32.75149559,8133.66958234a,25017742.90688754d,35y,0h,0t,0r/data=MicKJQojCiExN0MwN3o5Y1JIOV8ycjRXOE5IYmlYSkt0cDVFMHBCcl86AwoBMA [Chrome browser needed]
  4. Sound Outside Map: Listening to the world at Covid-19 Time
  5. Locus Sonus, real time audio streaming
  6. Muuttuvat suomalaiset äänimaisemat Listening Map: Poikkeuksellinen kevät 2020:
  7. Locate your sound, Italian Covid-19 sound map:
    (see also related essay:
  8. Several recordings (Grenoble) and soundwalks (Turin) on Cartophonies during confinement (search year 2020):
  9. Sound recordings from Fukushima and Sendai, Japan, by Koji Nagahata:
  10. Freesound Audio Database, with the search word “covid”:
  11. Based on the list collated by Society for Ethnomusicology members of hundreds of corona themes songs around the world, Elise Heinisch has made a very accessible map: (Because of “national education system she has had to filter certain songs which could be viewed as religious, political, or otherwise controversial”, so it now contains 139 songs from the list. The list keeps growing substantially.)
  12. Lisbon sound postcards in times of Covid-19, a tourist city without tourists:

Articles or blog posts about “change in soundscape” or similar

  1. The quiet life, article on The Monthly:
  2. Article on Toronto Star:
  3. Scientific Sonification – The Sound of Corona, essay by Holger Schulze:
  4. Less seismic vibration on Earth (YLE, in Finnish, references Nature journal):
  5. Birds sing louder (Iltalehti, in Finnish, references Reuters):
  6. Reduced marine noise (The Guardian)
  7. Essay on Istanbul, by Burcu Yasin:
  8. Essay on various places, by Matt Mikkelsen
  9. The bagpipes at Lauttasaari, Helsinki (in Finnish):
  10. Silent Helsinki (YLE, in Finnish):
  11. Silent Kuopio (YLE, in Finnish):
  12. Not so silent Helsinki (HS, in Finnish, mentions the legendary Corona Bar):
  13. Silent day care centers (MTV, in Finnish):
  14. Silence retreats by Tampere parishes are cancelled between March-May (in Finnish):
  15. Music for corona generation (in Dutch):
  16. Seismograf article compilation on sounds of 2020, essays collected through a writing competition  (Lyden af 2020, in Danish):
  17. A collection of written experiences with the sonic environment during lockdown (in English and Dutch): (see also the related open call:
  18. A blog by field recordist Arnoud Traa in Amsterdam: (tags #corona recordings and #coronarecordings)
  19. The Observer: Why lockdown silence was golden for science, June 20th,
  20. “Missing Sounds of New York: An Auditory Love Letter to New Yorkers”, New York City library’s list of sound recordings from NY “before Covid-19”., see also a story by Ashawnta Jackson at 
  21. Jez riley French’s blog diary on listening during the pandemic:
  22. “Singing Together, Apart”, by Rachael Beale, blog post at London Review of Books site:

Silence in pictures: empty cities photo reportages

  1. Istanbul (Sabah, in Turkish):
  2. Istanbul (Milliyet, in Turkish):
  3. London (Financial Times):
  4. Segovia (El Norte de Castilla, in Spanish):
  5. Paris (Le Point, in French):

Social media videos / streams of sounding out, playing, singing that have caught my attention

  1. How I’m Handling Online Teaching (Original Screaming Teacher Video)
  2. HUS (Helsinki University Hospital) doctors choir (in Finnish):
  3. Saturday evening music by Lauttasaari church, Piia Maunula on baroque oboe:
  4. The Lahti Symphony Orchestra: Sibelius: Finlandia op 26
  5. Virtuaalikuoro (Virtual Choir project, in Finnish)
  6. Vaskivuoren lukion kuoro (Vaskivuori High School virtual choir, in Finnish): and
  7. Covid-19 parody songs FB group:
  8. Darude Sandstorm on your balcony (in Finnish), FB group with videos:
  9. Video from early March with a hazmat dancer and people cheering in Spain:
  10. Balcony scene from Germany, a commentary on balcony singing: (Searching social media platforms with “balcony singing” provides lots of videos.)
  11. Spectral Electric: Pandemic Response Division album
  12. Alex Ross essay on pianist Igor Levit’s home concerts:
  13. The Boccaccio Project, a ollection and commision of musical performances by the Library of Congress:

Research projects or surveys about the same subject

  1. Year of Sound 2020 response to Covid-19:
  2. Silent Cities: A participatory monitoring programme of an exceptional modification of urban soundscapes:·Cities-Project.pdf
  3. Survey by Paola Moscoso:
  4. The Hellenic Society for Acoustic Ecology’s International Survey:
  5. The Collegium Hungaricum Berlin Open Call for making a collective soundscape compositions:
  6. Invitation for sound contributions for Live Release, open call:
  7. Call for works: Sonic, Social, Distance and Soundtracks for Strange Days, curated by Maile Colbert at Sonic Field:

Sound art works on the subject

  1. A radiophonic sound work “Poikkeusaika” by Taina Riikonen on life in quarantine:
  2. “Poikkeustila” soundscape work by Mikko Haapoja under the project The routes of Helsinki (Helsingin reitit):
  3. Ricardo Huisman’s (DJ Sensescape) compositions of his contributions to the Aporee sound map, published as an album:
  4. “Sounds of COVID album” by Sammy Holmes and co, Carleton University, Ottawa: (see also reflections on the project here).

Stepping lightly – more episodes to come

My podcast series “Keveät askeleet” (“light steps”) has come up with a small obstacle, now that there shouldn’t be much “stepping” done outside the house for a month or two.

The idea of the show is to take a scholar out for a walk, to which ever place they want that would be in their comfort zone, research-wise. We then walk about and discuss what they see, hear or “read” from the environment. This obviously being something else than I would, having a different disciplinary background. There is an emphasis on soundscape and sonic narration. The aesthetics of the show follows roughly the aesthetics of field work: no fancy editing, definitely not studio quality, but maybe a refreshing take on mediated auditory realities. At least I hope it might be refreshing. It could also be annoying for all I know.

So far I have had the pleasure to walk with four scholars. With architect Jenni Partanen we walked in Nekala, an old industrial district in Tampere, talking about entropy and change. With cultural scholar Anu Laukkanen we walked in the University of Turku campus, pondering situated bodies and power in different kinds of spaces of learning. With sound artist Petri Kuljuntausta we walked in Tukholmankatu, Helsinki, where his sound art gallery is located. With sociologist Juhana Venäläinen we walked around Tampere city centre, discussing the commons, cycling and urban space as a location for encountering. We also had some donuts.

If everything goes as planned tomorrow the fifth episode will be online: media scholar Minna Saariketo (while walking her dog in Turku) will accompany me walking around the garden in Tampere, and we will talk about the landscapes of code. This will be executed by all recommendations of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.

Pic: Mirkka Hietanen from Vastapaino (the feet are mine, the photo was taken by Miia Collanus). Jingle by Väinö Jylhämö.


Evening of Sounds – live from Turku

The 13th Evening of Sounds went out of Pasila studios and to the wild – Turku! A three hour live ”listening walk” was broadcasted in Radio Suomi on Thursday, August 15th. Together with artists Simo and Tuike Alitalo, researcher Heikki Uimonen and show host Jukka Mikkola, and with the technical help of sound designers Mikko Kuokka and Antti Pohjola and producer Pertti Ylikojola back at the OB van, we walked some 7 kilometers listening to the very lively Night of the Arts (“Taiteiden yö”), celebrating it’s 30th year.

You can listen to the program here: During the first hour we climb to the Vartiovuori hill, the second we spend around the old city centre, around Tuomiokirkko, and the third hour we went up and down the Aura river with a boat (with an electric engine, and with captain Nigel Helyer). A wonderful moment personally, just at the end of the second hour, is listening to the old door of the Turku Main Library. Some creaking hinges from 2005 and 2019. (There wasn’t time to play the recording from 2010, you can listen to it here:

I’ve written a chapter about the program to Music radio: building communities, mediating genres (eds. M. Michelsen, M. Krogh, S. Kaargaard Nielsen and I. Have. London: Bloomsbury, 2018) with the title “Mediated Soundscapes: Representations of the National in the Soundscape Call-in Programme Äänien ilta.” If you’d wish to read it but don’t have access to the book, drop me a line.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

“During the last five years, the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE has been broadcasting a call-in programme on environmental sounds [–]. The three-hour live program called Äänien ilta (‘evening of sounds’) is [usually] aired on a Sunday evening slot and with approximately 220 000 listeners per show it is considered a popular event with listeners and critics alike. The programme consists of callers’ narratives on their personal and sometimes intimate experiences and memories on both current and past sonic phenomena. The callers request recorded sounds they would like to hear in the programme. Some requests are selected and fulfilled with the help of the YLE sound archives and present-day soundscape recordings produced by soundscape archiving projects outside YLE. The host of the show, Jukka Mikkola, discusses the sound requests and stories connected to them together with the callers and studio guests representing soundscape research, sound art and sound design.

Äänien ilta falls somewhere between the more conventional radio programmes such as music call-in shows, citizen’s forums and studio conversation programmes. The radical idea of dedicating three live hours for environmental sound recordings, call-ins and brief commentaries is exceptional. The sound recordings listened to are often quite long samples without a dramatic structure, not only sound effects to feed brief sonic curiosity. The audience is offered a position to listen to the sounds together with the host and studio guests attentively, possibly unlike in everyday situations and thus attach personal and communal meanings to them via a public broadcast.”


All Evening of Sounds programs are archived online to YLE Elävä arkisto:

Aural Visions: Artistic Spaces, Making Places, roundtable

Tom Williams, Meri Kytö and Miriam de Rosa, and a gorgeous fresco.

The roundtable – Aural Visions: Artistic Spaces, Making Places – was curated and chaired by Miriam De Rosa and tackled topics such as sound art and placemaking, mapping and navigating space through sound/aural artistic practice, audiovisual media and acousmatic music, interactive screen and sound media. Taking part in the roundtable together with me were Tom Williams, Elena Biserna and Yiorgis Sakellariou.

Mapping Spaces, Sounding Places: Geographies of Sound in Audiovisual Media was organized at the Department of Musicology and Cultural Heritage, University of Pavia (Cremona).


Late night at a train. Two teenage boys playing a first-person-shooter mobile game with sounds on in an otherwise quiet and sleeping car. The phone rings.

“Oh why do they fucking always have to call when I’m fucking playing!?! [pause, answers phone] Yes? Yes I’m at the train. Yeah ok, I will.”



[A guest post]

Morning at a pharmacy. The pharmasist offers help to a customer.

“Can I help?”

“Yeah, I’d need an allergy drug.”

“Do you have a specific product in mind?”

“Yeah, anything but the one that has the annoying jingle. It has played in my head non-stop for a few days now.”

“Ah, OK. Here’s a product from another manufacturer.”


Serving with distinction

Afternoon in a coffee shop. Two baristas serving one customer.

“What’s on the pulled oats you got there?”

“It’s the sweet chili marinade and I’ve added some parsley.” 

“Ok, I’ll have the halloumi instead.” 

“Can I put cottage cheese on top of the dry bread?”

“Do you want syrup with your chili chai latte?”

“No thanks.” 

“Yeah… it’s better to ask and make sure.” 


Out in the town

Late afternoon at a restaurant. Two young women tweeting.

“Is that like good grammar? ‘Strolling around Copenhagen’?”



“Ok so I wrote ‘Casually exploring Copenhagen with this hottie'”

“With this hottie?”

“Yeah! Ok, look up cutie, smile, open your mouth, with your teeth out…”


“Ok, savage!”


I don’t trust you

Evening infront of a shopping mall. A young man talks on the phone.

“Hey you, yeah, I’m on the street, I’m outside. No. You get down here. No you come out, now. Now! You come out now! Yeah. [hands the phone to a young man next to him] Thanks a lot. Ok, so my friend comes out now. You give him twenty euros, ok? You just say it’s from me, ok?”

“…. well… nah… It’s too complicated.”

“Just give it to him, and then you…”

“Forget it. I won’t.”

“Yeah… well I need to… [walks away]”



On a bus. An elderly lady hops on and starts talking to another across the aisle.

“There’s a fine hassle at the bank! What a cue. And one man fell on top of me. He fell on me! He was feeling dizzy you see. He had a dizzy fit. And was sent to the hospital. After the fall… I didn’t need to [pause] Luckily nothing happened to me! Even though I was squished right under him! [laughter]”

“Yeah, sometimes things…”

“…once a man’s shopping tote broke on the escalator, a canvas tote, the seam in the bottom tore up, all the books scattered around… I lost my step among the books. Yes… well…”


Did you see that coming?

Coffee house, afternoon. Two young men talking.

“He had a wife, did you know that? For years. And now he’s dating, a woman. Like… I didn’t see that coming. ”

“Yeah, I’ve seen… in concerts, I’ve seen him together with…”

“Yeah, hmm. Didn’t see that… but I’ll be in Berlin so I won’t be…”
“Maybe they’ll do a broadcast in radio or…”

“Yeah, I’m sure….”