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McCartney, Andra

Alien Intimacies: Hearing science fiction narratives in Hildegard Westerkamp’s Cricket Voice (or ‘I don’t like the country, the crickets make me nervous’)


Organised Sound: Vol. 7, no. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 45-49.

Soundscape Composition, Narrative, Aural Analysis, Intention/Reception
Abstract: This article discusses listener responses to a contemporary soundscape composition based on the sound of a cricket. Soundscape composers make works based on everyday sounds and sound environments, usually recorded by themselves (Truax). While the composer of this piece aims to bring listeners closer to the sounds around them by creating audio pieces based on these sounds (Westerkamp), some listeners feel fear and anxiety rather than the heightened closeness and understanding that she wishes listeners to experience. The author compares the sound structure of Cricket Voice with close listening to excerpts of the film soundtrack of Ridley Scott’s Alien as well as a short excerpt from the soundtrack of the X Files, discussing how science fiction film and television soundtracks index sonic intimacy with different intent from that of Westerkamp, and raising questions about how such approaches to intimacy might simultaneously reflect and intensify urban anxieties about the sounds of ‘alien’ species that are associated with wilderness environments.

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Monday 11 July 2005, by Leigh Landy