Much of the work of the Black Sound Lab is to listen, digitally or otherwise, in the service of Black life. Spectrogram films are but one part of this endeavor, a way to visualize the constitutive elements of Black sound over a given period of time.
Seeing the Sounds of 7th and Florida
This spectrogram film, created from soundscape recordings made in 2018, shows the soundwaves of a gentrifying intersection in Washington, DC. The film features a number of different intersecting and overlapping sounds, including sirens, go-go music, public transportation, and construction. The intersection featured here is 7th Street and Florida Avenue Northwest, site of DC’s well documented #DontMuteDC movement in 2019. The sounds here have become a catalyst for the city’s conversation about gentrification and Black cultural erasure, and have led to go-go music being signed into law as the official music of DC. This film was created for and featured at Sounding Board, a sound art exhibition at the Society for Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting at Indiana University-Bloomington in 2019. A shorter version of the film is featured in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival’s Wardscapes project.