Staten Island in Sound

The concept of the Ear to the Earth festival in October 2011 was a New York soundscape in which sounds from all of the boroughs would be recorded and performed for the first time in the boroughs in which they were recorded. Staten Island in Sound was first performed at Snug Harbor, founded in 1801 in Staten Island as a “haven for aged, decrepit and worn out sailors” and developed as a regional arts center during the later part of the 20th century.

Joe Kubera and I worked together in September 2011 to record the sounds of Staten Island. Since he knew his way around, I drove and he told me where to drive. The result was a remarkably varied group of sounds and images (we took photos of wherever we recorded) from various parts of the island. Our idea for creating a composition with the sounds was a live mix, putting the sounds together as a performance.

There was a quiet beach with a helicopter flying over. The boats started softly in the marina. The sounds of the restaurant were lively with plates, glasses, and conversation.








And there was traffic everywhere. People on the boardwalk and children in playgrounds. We recorded cars from underneath the Verrazano Bridge. A firetruck screamed "Out of the Way!" Groups of young people playing basketball, in another place playing football. A train, many birds, wild turkeys, a choir of bells, more traffic, a mall, a park, and more traffic.


This is Joe, at Snug Harbor, putting it together for the first time.

Joel Chadabe




The picture is a meeting hall at Snug Harbor. Photo by Shimpei Takeda.

4 Pieces Based on New York Sounds