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Nocturnal Polyphony: Mobile Music-Making as Urban Composition

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Publication date26/05/2023
Host publicationSonic Signatures: Music, Migration and the City at Night
EditorsDerek Pardue, Ailbhe Kenny, Katherine Young
Place of PublicationBristol
Number of pages12
ISBN (electronic)9781789386974
ISBN (print)9781789386967, 9781789386998
<mark>Original language</mark>English


How does the night sound? More specifically, who provides the soundtrack? This chapter presents a soundscape walk of the urban night through the inner-city area of Cheetham Hill in Manchester, UK. The district is home to a multi-ethnic community, the result of several waves of immigration to Britain. In the mid-19th century, it drew Irish people fleeing the Great Famine, with Jews settling in the area in the late-19th and early 20th centuries as they fled persecution in continental Europe. During the 1950s and 1960s, migrants from the Indian subcontinent and Caribbean established new communities in Cheetham Hill. More recently it has become home for people from Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Far East. It is immigration policy as urban landscape and its music is vibrant, discordant, and ever-mutating. Of particular interest here is the way in which sounds bleed into one another, creating interstitial zones for the nightwalker where the city’s music is unintentionally remixed. By moving through place, the manifold tones and rhythms are recomposed in an improvisational way. This chapter discusses the mobile music of Cheetham Hill as an on-going entanglement that occurs at the boundaries of body and urban landscape, sound and time, identity and place.