With the students of Portuguese as Non-Native Language at Gil Vicente Secondary School, we carried out sixteen hours of classes. The aim was to achieve sound activities around the topic of awareness, recognition, interpretation, and the creation through sound of affective and identity bonds in the neighbourhoods of Alfama, Mouraria, Graça and Arroios , as well as in the discovery of a subjective and collective world of sounds in the multicultural landscape of these neighbourhoods. The result of this sound exploration resulted in the collection of a sound material that is presented on this site and the creation of four sound pieces composed by Fernando Ramalho.
The exercises, both inside and outside the classroom, focused on the initiation of sound awareness, to facilitate an approximation to an understanding of the daily landscape. With itineraries through the neighbourhood, we explored the sonorous, corporal, and spatial identity of the chosen locations. We recorded the sound of the environment with the use of mobile phones. The students discovered the rhythms of space and the relationship with their own body. They recorded environmental sounds as well as sounds created in the active interaction of their bodies, their gestures, their actions, and their speech in space.
As a homework assignment, we asked students to observe their everyday life outside of school and share with us familiar sounds inside and outside their homes. This personal discovery reshapes its presence in urban space. We also asked the students to explore and share their memory of sounds that only exist in their countries of origin, which are part of an emotional heritage that roots them to their past. There are also sounds that the students heard for the first time after their arrival to Lisbon. All of them were surprising and strange sounds, when they were first heard. Through these exercises we tried to appeal, on the one hand, to the construction of a discourse on the cultural sound memory of the students, as well as, on the other hand, a practice of listening to their daily lives. In this intersection between memory and everyday life, the students constructed a perception, through sound, of the continuities and discontinuities between the places of origin and Lisbon.
Another line of approach is music, trying to understand to what extent their musical interests intervene in the construction of their cultural identity. Students compared their different musical and cultural tastes, also finding a point of cultural transversality. These soundtracks, present in their mobile phones, accompany their daily life while discovering the city.
Finally, an essential pillar of this project was the study of speech understood both as a sound form and as an instrument of communication. In the classroom there were sixteen different languages, apart from Portuguese (Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Nepali, Bengali, Punjabi, Harayanni, Tagalog, Arabic, Wolof, Yoruba, Creole, Romanian, French, and English). We have tried to understand from what point in the domain of the foreign language of the place where one goes that speech is no longer understood “only” as sound and acquires the necessary meanings so that it can also be an instrument of communication. The point of departure is, therefore, the understanding of speech a, simultaneously a signifier and bearer of meaning. We worked with notions such as the musicality of languages and the rhythms of voice and language. We explored the voice, its own language and spoken speech as a form of disruption and desynchronization that is part of the sound integration of the body and the individual self in the neighbourhood’s soundscape. Speech is an instrument of communication, but the different sixteen languages inside the group were heard as different rhythmic sound variations. Other exercises related to speech and language were related to reproduction of environmental sounds through their voices and the written transcription with the use of onomatopoeias.