Group Project Proposal

For the group project, Group 1 and I would like to study how different areas around the world create different sounds. We would like to interview five different people from different parts of the world. So far, these are the questions we will be asking:

  • What sounds did you hear growing up?
  • Where are you from?
  • What sounds do you think are unique to your hometown?
  • If you could give three words to describe the sound of your hometown, what would they be?
  • Is there a song, tv show, or movie that reminds you of where you’re from?

By asking these questions, we hope to capture what makes different areas sonically unique. We also hope to capture the different dialects or accents that can be found across the world, however, this element will not be discussed during the interview. We hope that the listeners of our finished production will merely be able to see the differences in the dialects.


Sound Memoir: Script


  • Clip 1
    • Description: Packing for plane
    • Dialogue: “I pack my duffel bag to the brim even though I’m only going on a five-day trip. I can hear the track of the zipper struggle to close.”
  • Clip 2
    • Description: at the airport
    • Dialogue: “I find myself in line at the airport waiting to get through security. I listen to everyone’s conversation around me and try to decipher whether they’re traveling for business or pleasure.”
    • “Then I hear the familiar sounds of people hurrying to put their stuff in those grey plastic tubs and send them through the machine. They all wait to hear the same beep that means they’ve been cleared.”
  • Clip 3
    • Description: getting on board the plane and finding a seat
    • Dialogue: “I make my way to my gate and wait to get checked in. I hear conversations of excited passengers.”
    • “I board the plane and shuffle past the seated passengers.
  • Clip 4
    • Description: Clicking seat belt
    • Dialogue: “I strap my seat belt tight around my waist. The sound of the seatbelt clicking fills me with a false sense of hope. Like somehow the small cloth strap will save me if I fall 25,000 feet”
  • Clip 5
    • Description: Plane takes off and chewing gum
    • Dialogue: “I hear the flight attendants giving the same worn out speech about the oxygen masks and safety exits. But I still listen attentively just in case something happens.”
    • “I hear the plane’s engines grow louder and louder as we speed down the runway. I pop a piece of gum in my mouth so my ears don’t hurt from the altitude. The faster we go, the louder my chewing gets, and the louder my breathing gets.”
  • Clip 6
    • Description: Turbulence and seat belt sound
    • Dialogue: “We climb higher and higher in the sky until the pilot finally reaches his desired altitude. But the roar of the plane’s engines never dies down. I feel the plane shake in the air. I chew my gum faster as I get more and more anxious. I hear the sound of the seatbelt sign ding, only confirming my fears. Everyone must remain seated with their seat belt on due to the turbulence.”
  • Clip 7
    • Description: hearing sounds of other people being unworried
    • Dialogue: “I hear the nonchalant conversations around me; the small talk just to pass the time. The noise of people’s trivial conversations keep me at ease. If no one else was worried, I guess I shouldn’t be either.
  • Clip 8
    • Description: plan landing
    • Dialogue: “Two hours pass by and I hear the flight attendant’s voice come back on over the speakers. We’ve made it to our destination.”
    • “My heart fills with relief as I hear the sound of the plane’s tires touching the ground of the runway.



Summary and Synthesis Response #1

Katelyn Cavagna

English 320

19 February 2018

SSR #1




In Chapter 4 of The Sonic Color Line, Stoever analyzes the musical relationship between Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter and John Lomax, as well as the writings of Richard Wright, to discern how the sonic color line evolved after the Great Migration and in response to the perceived threat of black masculinity and racial violence during the early 1900s. In terms of Ledbetter and Lomax, Stoever argues that Lomax developed a persona for Ledbetter that would be an auditory representation of black stereotypes. Stoever writes, “Lomax’s relentless marketing of Ledbetter as a “to-be-lynched” body pressured the sonic color line’s dynamics toward characterizing black male voices as dangerous and hypersexual to ‘match’ the visual framing of their bodies as inherently criminal, sexual, and strong” (Stoever 195). Stoever also argues that Ledbetter served as a “walking archive” of slavery by using “inarticulate” lyrics and folk style music of “black misery.” In terms of Richard Wright, Stoever argues that his writings served as representations of how black men and boys used the sonic color line as a way to try to evade racial violence. Stoever writes, “Wright’s literary soundtrack amplifies how black boys came to understand the codes of the sonic color line as lifesaving yet paradoxically self-destructive” (Stoever 212). Stoever also argues that Wright’s works emphasize the way sound and listening create racialized spaces. Stoever writes, “Wright often uses aural imagery to show how the sonic color line provides segregated space with a distinct affect while exposing the listening ear as a racialized spatial protocol, extending white privilege to control over common soundscapes” (Stoever 220).




In Chapter 3 of The Sonic Color Line, Stoever discusses how the white listening ear shaped what was acceptable in music in terms of black musicians. Stoever writes, “White listeners used black singers and storytellers as sonic experiences of collapsed time, capable of momentarily conjuring a preserved antebellum soundscape to vibrational life” (Stoever 141). This is similar to how Stoever argues Ledbetter was portrayed to white listeners in the early 1900s. In order to present an unthreatening representation of black people, white listeners chose to reject sounds of protest and accept sounds reminiscent of slavery and white supremacy. In both Chapter 3 and 4 of this book Stoever argues that throughout history black musicians were used to perpetuate existing black stereotypes, rather than be seen as serious musicians comparable to white musicians.

Similarly, in Chapter 2 of the Sonic Color Line, Stoever outlines the appearance of stereotypes in regards to black sonic identity. Stoever writes, “Minstrelsy’s aural practice involved distorted dialect, exaggerated intonation, rhythmic speech cadences, and particular musical instruments such as the banjo and bone castanets allegedly lifted from ‘the plantation’” (Stoever 84). This is similar to Ledbetter’s expectation to meet the expectations of the racist listening ear. He was forced to sound inarticulate while singing folk songs about “black misery” in order to reminisce the days on the plantation. In Chapter 2 Stoever also discusses the connection between the body and sound. She writes, “The antebellum sonic color line naturalized the socially constructed, historically contingent relationships between the voice and the body, suturing the two together as essentially raced entities via the listening ear” (Stoever 130). In Chapter 4, Stoever argues that the promotion of Ledbetter alongside lynching photos affected how white people made connections between black men’s bodies and Ledbetter’s voice. Stoever argues, in both chapters, that stereotypes for how black people should sound were tied closely to how black people looked.

In the Introduction to The Sonic Color Line Stoever briefly discusses the idea of white ownership of public spaces. She uses the example of a white man killing a black teen at a gas station because the black teen would not turn down his hip-hop music. Stoever writes, “Without ever consciously expressing the sentiment, white Americans often feel entitled to respect for their sensibilities, sensitivities, and tastes, and to their implicit, sometimes violent, control over the soundscape of an ostensibly ‘free,’ ‘open,’ and ‘public’ space” (Stoever 2). Stoever uses both modern and past examples to describe this incidence of believed white ownership of public space, and the unfortunate violent actions that arise from it. In Chapter 4 of The Sonic Color Line Stoever again discusses this idea in regard to Wright’s work. She argues that black people had to be cautious of their sonic presence in public places, as whites dominated even common areas. This point also roughly relates to a point made in the Introduction to The Auditory Culture Reader. The authors write, “Sensitivity to the urban auditory is often class-based and culturally influenced. Cultures with strong notions of ‘private space’ as a form of entitlement are more prone to complain about the noise of others” (Bull and Back 10). The authors also make the case that people feel entitled to sonic space, and that this entitlement can be class-based. Therefore, one can make the connection that white elites believed to own public space over the supposed lower class black population.

In Chapter 7 of The Auditory Culture Reader, Smith discusses the formation of racial stereotypes in senses other than sight. He writes, “The slaveholders also cast blackness in sensory terms both to justify and to explain exploitation” (Smith 102). These stereotypes were meant not only to separate black and whites, but to justify a belief that blacks were somehow of lesser value than whites. This is similar to the argument made in Chapter 4 of The Sonic Color Line about the reason segregated neighborhoods. In both instances, whites consciously developed stereotypes for black people in order to justify discrimination.



  1.  Can there be a way to determine who owns sonic space – either public or private space? Is there an effective way to regulate the sounds of public or private spaces?
  2.  How are these stereotypes, or new stereotypes, are still used today in order to “justify” current race relations?


Word count: 991

Sound Memoir Proposal

For my Sound Memoir I want to gather different sounds from a trip I’m going to be taking next week. I’m going to be flying to Florida for a few days to visit my grandmother and I want to record it from start to finish. I’ll record sounds from the airport, from in the plane, from the beach, and from other activities that I’m going to do with my grandmother. At the end of the trip I hope to accumulate an audio representation of my travels. I usually travel to Florida once a year to visit my grandmother so this is a trip that has specific sounds that I don’t get to hear that often. Normally, I take pictures and remember the trip more visually so it will be interesting to have audio to look back on instead of photos. I’ll be taking this trip February 8th-12th so I’ll be able to get all of my materials together very soon and have enough time to edit and tie them together with narration from me to guide the listeners. I hope to have my audio recording be similar to a video on Youtube by Connor Franta (  Although it does include a visual aspect, the main point of the video was to gather sound clips that represent his hometown. Although the theme of my sound memoir is different from the theme of his video, I think we both have the same idea of gathering sounds that represent a place.


EDIT:  After listening to the audio clips in class I realized I can implement a few new techniques from that podcast into my recording.  First, I want to experiment with layering sounds to portray a sense of time passing. I’d also like to use audio clips to provide an audio representation of my narration.









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