"L'ambiance est bonne" ou l'évanescent rapport aux paysages sonores au Caire. Invitation à une écoute participante et proposition d'une grille d'analyse

Abstract : This contribution offers to carry on a work begun elsewhere (Battesti, 2009): to focus on sound ambiance of a place, this intangible matter. This soundscape is not only a result of activities within a place (passive definition), but can also be a voluntary collective construction (active definition). In Cairo and its 'sound coating', each neighborhood possesses its own atmosphere, its specific identity given by the citizens, within the urban fabric of the metropolis. The ambiance is not a trivial detail, a simple sound background: this is the first quality put forward by Cairo citizens to explain their strolling here and not there in the city, to justify their appreciation of the urban places. The ambiance or atmosphere, with its sound component, becomes an objectified part of the "beauty" of an urban space. EIther these spaces are structured by the vegetal (public gardens) or mineral (neighborhoods), what matters for Cairene users of public spaces is the "soul" of the place, which first manifestation is the co-presence of other human, sonic transmitters. Most of the Cairo popular outings are picnic on benches, on green roundabouts... urban ambiances catch on within, and without escape and abstract of, a saturated environment of people, smells, urban pollution... and sounds. Strollers come to enjoy the ambiance, take part in the show that the city generates by looking at itself, by listening to itself. To each territory of the city corresponds a peculiar sound ambiance, each neighborhood has its own signature. This signature can be analyzed, decomposed (inventory of different sounds), but it is the comprehensive listening that provides meaning. I have shown elsewhere, the relevance of the subject "sound ambiance" in anthropology: sound ambiances are not a coincidence, they are social productions. Now I want to push the hypothesis of a "sound social structure": sound ambiances (produced and received) would be organized on the strong social structure of Egyptian society. The principle that seems to govern the best the popular policy regarding the sound is the saturation, like the popular celebrations and weddings or religious festivals (mulîd) where electroamplified musics (with electroacoustic effects that are usually avoided elsewhere than in Egypt) voluntarily fill the air, rule supreme. The exceptional moments of celebration, of course, meet the most everyday moments where the sound saturation is lower, but the sound signature equally obvious to everyone. How to define "soundscapes" and how to describe these soundscapes, how to analyze them, what can we say about their production and standards that govern them? and if the sound ambiances can be described as décor of the very moment, what games players do they allow?
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Submitted on : Saturday, December 7, 2013 - 8:56:24 PM
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Vincent Battesti. "L'ambiance est bonne" ou l'évanescent rapport aux paysages sonores au Caire. Invitation à une écoute participante et proposition d'une grille d'analyse. Marie-Barbara Le Gonidec et Joël Candau. Paysages sensoriels. Essai d'anthropologie de la construction et de la perception de l'environnement sonore, éditions du CTHS, pp.70-95, 2013, coll. Orientations et Méthodes, n°26, 978-2-7355-0806-8. ⟨hal-00842075v2⟩

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