Hospitality of sonic ambiences and acoustic practices

Practicing hospitality in an era of new forms of migration

The project

This project explores the ways in which sonic ambiances and acoustic practices  can create a sense of hospitality within different communities – either those in transit or those already settled – from the Mediterranean, the Middle East or North Africa (MENA). Collaborating with Süden Radio programs coordinated by Radio Papesse, the project aims to develop sound creations – 16 of which have been produced in Grenoble (by ESAD and ENSAG students), one by the artist Aurélie Lierman and 30 selected from a call for sound projects and from the archives of Radio Papesse.

At the heart of the questions raised by the Suden Radio project of the Radio Papesse collective is the idea of cultural identity of the South which is linked to a re-evaluation of the process of subjectivation tied to territoriality through ideas of trans-nationality and intersectionnality present in the Hospitality Practices platform of ESAD.

This platform of critical research and political imagination addresses the idea of hospitality as a critical tool in order to rethink the desire to belong to a territory and from there, the roles of sexuality, gender, ethnicity and class in the global phenomena of power and inequality. The theoretical, artistic and curatorial projects of the platform thus envisage hospitality in a post-national and non-Eurocentric perspective, in order to reformulate ideas of territoriality and locality in the era of nomadism, global movement and the economy of flux, radical diversity and diasporic phenomena.

In the framework of this project: two soundtracks have been shortlisted in the international call for soundwork launched by Radiopapesse in November 2018: Street Criers by Noha Gamal Said and Moving Fragments of St Bruno by Luciana Roça.

Street Criers: a sonic practice in popular districts in Cairo

Noha Gamal SAID. Assistant-Prof., Ain Shams University, Department of architecture and urban design, Cairo. Associate-Researcher Equipe CRESSON – UMR CNRS AAU – ENSA Grenoble, Univ. Grenoble Alpes, France.

Noha presents her recording through questions asked during the radio show that took place during the Winter School in January 2019 at Cresson.

Street Criers: a sonic practice in popular districts in Cairo, mixing from sound recordings made between 2010-2018, Noha Gamal Said

Q 1: Tell us where these sounds come from, what are we listening to?

The soundtrack tackles one of the phenomena composing the soundscape of the different districts in Cairo: the street criers. Based on multiple sound recordings assembled in one soundtrack, this type of representation underlines the multiplicity of town criers.  In my recordings, I have collected two types of street criers: those who sing to sell their goods: honey, broad beans, bread; or those who use primitive musical instruments: rababa, whistle, finger cymbal; each of these sounds corresponds to a specific product. 

Q 2: This sounds like a homage to a city that seems to resist modernity: you wrote us, Cairo is one of the cities that still has the strength and right to ring before modernity twists his vocal cords and teaches him to shut up for ever. So modernity is a process of urban silencing for you?

The sounds of street criers evoke a specific way of inhabiting spaces that embeds sonic values. It is a unique form of commerce in which the market moves towards the inhabitants. The interest in this sonic phenomenon can draw attention to its value and emphasize the aesthetic sonic quality it adds to the street. However, this phenomenon is threatened by enforced disappearance due to, on the one hand, the massive transformation of popular districts: they become more and more densely inhabited. On the other hand, the emergence of gated communities as a contemporary form of habitat that prevent this phenomenon from continuing.

Q 3: Interestingly, by presenting your piece you mentioned the Arabic word al-wanas. Can you tell us why it is so consistent to our investigation into hospitality?

It is not by chance that al-wanas الونس (in the colloquial language or الأنس  in the formal  language) – a word difficult to translate but which evokes the emotional comfort related to the presence of others, the feeling of being accompanied – refers to a phonic expression. This word defines the sound relation by which the city locates its inhabitants in a sound and body ensemble. Another dimension is the social acceptability, and here we join hospitality, as these sounds demonstrate how the sound space hosts these sound, accepts the phonic presence of the others and lets them penetrate into the intimate sound sphere.


Noha Gamal Said. 2015. Les crieurs publics : Un dispositif sonore dans les quartiers populaires du Caire. In : Claire Guiu; Guillaume Faburel; Marie-Madeleine Mervant-Roux; Henry Torgue; Philippe Woloszyn. Soundspaces : espaces, expériences et politiques du sonore, Presses universitaires de Rennes. ⟨⟩. ⟨hal-01324078⟩

Noha Gamal Said. 2014. Vers une écologie sensible des rues du Caire : le palimpseste des ambiances d’une ville en transition. Architecture, aménagement de l’espace. Université de Grenoble, Français. ⟨NNT : 2014GRENH004⟩. ⟨tel-01124262⟩

Moving Fragments of St Bruno

Luciana Roça. PhD Student Nomads.usp, Université de São Paulo, PhD student in research internship at the Cresson – AAU.

Ecole d'hiver 2019, Radio Papese, photo prise par Noha Said
Winter School 2019, Radio Papese, photo by Noha Said
Moving fragments of Saint-Bruno, Grenoble, 2019, Luciana Roça

This sound piece is an imagined montage in flux. We suggest to listen to it with open ears and headphones. How many stories does a neighbourhood have? This sound piece is an invitation to hear some fragments of the Saint Bruno neighbourhood and street market, in Grenoble, France. These are lost events and hidden phrases, full of context, trapped into the record. Sound fluxes that might be or not comprehensible, that sometimes depend on our understanding. The time and the fluxes establish these small everyday frontiers between the listener and the sound, me and the others. How do we listen to and welcome these sounds?

Thus, this is a montage of sound registers made during different days and hours at Saint Bruno, a neighbourhood in Grenoble known for its street market, sociocultural diversity and conflicts about its urban planning. The sound piece tries to represent a walk through this vicinity, in which the recorder tries to be also in movement, passing by to get an overall understanding of the neighbourhood but also losing some of these events in the urban flux.

Project initiators:
Jean-Paul Thibaud – Cresson – Laboratoire Ambiances, Architectures, Urbanités ; École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Grenoble
Simone Frangi – ÉSAD – Grenoble – Valence
Professors and researchers involved in the project:
Jean-Paul Thibaud (CNRS), Simone Frangi (ESAD) (ed) with juL McOisans (IRMC), Nicolas Tixier (ENSAG), Katia Schneller (ESAD)
Artists involved in the project:
Radio Papesse, radio collective (
Aurélie Lierman, artist (

Pour citer ce billet : Gamal Said, Noha ; Roça Luciana ; Thibaud, Jean-Paul. Hospitalité des ambiances sonores et des pratiques acoustiques. Le Cresson Veille et Recherche…mis en ligne le 14 octobre 2019, disponible sur :

Citer ce billet
Françoise Acquier (2019, 5 novembre). Hospitality of sonic ambiences and acoustic practices. Le Cresson veille et recherche…. Consulté le 21 juin 2024, à l’adresse

Françoise Acquier

Chargée de ressources documentaires Equipe Cresson - UMR Ambiances Architectures Urbanités - Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Grenoble.

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