A Walk Through the City

Norbert Ruebsaat, Hildegard Westerkamp

Programme notes

A Walk Through the City

A Walk Through The City is an urban environmental composition based on Norbert Ruebsaat’s poem of the same name. It takes the listener into a specific urban location — Vancouver’s Skid Row area — with its sounds and languages. Traffic, carhorns, brakes, sirens, aircraft, construction, pinball machines, the throb of trains, human voices, a poem, are its ‘musical instruments.’ These sounds are used partly as they occur in reality and partly as sound objects altered in the studio. A continuous flux is created between the real and imaginary soundscapes, between recognizable and transformed places, between reality and composition.

The poem is spoken by the author and appears throughout the piece, symbolizing the human presence in the urban soundscape. Its voice interacts with, comments on, dramatizes, struggles with the sounds and other voices it encounters in the piece.

[traduction française: Aline Barnoti]


A Walk Through The City was realized in 1981 at the Sonic Research Studio of Simon Fraser University (SFU) (Vancouver, BC) and, in its final stage, at the CBC studios in Vancouver, with the technical assistance of Gary Heald. The piece was commissioned by and first broadcast on CBC Radio’s Two New Hours, in April, 1981. Many of the sounds were taken from the World Soundscape Project’s environmental tape collection at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, including two of the street oldtimers, recorded by my friend and colleague, the late Howard Broomfield. Some were recorded by myself.


Premiere

  • April 1981, Two New Hours, CBC
  • Instrumentation: stereo fixed medium
  • Composer(s): Hildegard Westerkamp
  • Writer(s): Norbert Ruebsaat
  • Year of composition: 1981
  • Commission: Two New HoursCBC
  • ISWC: T9068760725
  • Publisher(s): Yul média
  • ISRC: CAD509612260

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