Sound + Video

John Luther Adams Soundwalk — Met Museum

“Commissioned by MetLiveArts to celebrate the opening of The Met Breuer, Soundwalk 9:09 takes its title from the time it takes to walk between The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Breuer: nine minutes and nine seconds. The composition, in two parts "Uptown" and "Downtown," are now available via a free download to your device, and through the WQXR app. Listen to these powerful new works by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Luther Adams who, in his first New York City composition, has ingeniously turned an eight-block stretch of city grid into a polyphonic, antiphonic, and personal music adventure.”

Thoughts on Uptown
I’ve always been curious about the differences between what it’s like in uptown versus downtown manhattan. But something I found even more interested was composer Adams’ take on the different elements of the two. Uptown has a distinct sound. It starts off with the sound of nature: bugs chirping, and then a melody of relaxation following. How can NYC sound so … relaxing? There’s something very church-like in these sounds. The vibrations of the melody dance between my ears, it’s something to sit back and listen to. This is a very abstracted NYC indeed. It sounds warm, large, contemplative, lost, a sound without a beat. A curiosity.

Later in the piece I heard a forest. It’s amazing what the world might sound like when we abstract it. NYC if heard in this way can be a truly relaxing place. Not one where we are rushing back and forth. I hear metal, I am not sure where I am. I feel truly lost. I feel like this is the kind of soundtrack I’d listen to as an accompaniment to something at a museum: the sound fills a space, it truly feels environmental.

Thoughts on Downtown

Downtown sounds darker. Throws me into air more easily. A lot more jungle sounding, more trees. I didn’t think I realized what the sound of trees ever sounded like until now, where I can actually hear the animals living up inside of them. It sounds like much more is going on and is far, far away. I feel like I’m again being transported to a place that isn’t here. A place that isn’t there. But a place perhaps within a vacuum, a sound that’s been manufactured within some kind of tunnel. I’m certainly not feeling crisp, not feeling like I’m actively listening. Rather, the vibration just takes me to a place right before I fall asleep. In meditation, this type of sound takes me to a place of transcendence.

I hear the sound of an ambulance. I feel fearful, like a lost animal on the street. Is this hell? Could I be gone, forever?