Sonic Work

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.