Illustration by Eric Hanson
25 Oct 2018
Listen. Is a fan whirring? A child singing? Can sound tell you where you are? The weekly blaring test of 109 emergency sirens once told Brazilian composer and performer Bruno Ruviaro that it was lunchtime in San Francisco.
Like any noise, if you really hear it, the sound grounded him in a place and time.
Now Ruviaro, an associate professor of music, explores sound and space with ethnomusicologist and dancer Christina Zanfagna, who is also an associate professor at SCU. Together with web developer Max Stein, these two SCU faculty created the San Francisco Bay Area Sound Map.
Students collected most sounds of the 150 incorporated into the interactive digital map: from Mass in the Mission to flamenco guitar in Berkeley to the hiss of a trolleybus. This push to preserve sounds is driven, in part, by a wish to know the past.
“I would love to know what was the sound of garbage trucks in the 1940s,” Ruviaro says. “I like to zoom in to those sounds because they form part of our lives today.”
—Ethan Beberness ’19