Sound Excursion: Plano Pilato, Brasilia

  We decided to do a sound excursion by car rather than a soundwalk, because Brasilia was designed for the car, not for pedestrians. A one-hour long soundwalk, would have given us very little acoustic variety, as it is hard to get away from traffic noise.

The part that looks like a bird or an airplane on the map, is the so-called Plano Piloto, pilot plan, designed by Lucio Costa. The body of the "airplane" is made up of the Monumental Axis - Eixo Monumental - along which we find most government institutions, the cathedral, the hospital, commercial, hotel and bank sectors, the TV tower, the military sector and the overland bus and train station. The wings of the airplane, called Asa Sul and Asa Norte, are made up of the Residential Highway Axis which moves from North to South. This is where most people live in three to six story apartment buildings. Where the two axes meet is the rodoviaria, the central bus station. This, ironically, is the centre of Plano Piloto, a far cry from plazas, market places, piazzas - the "Commons" of many city centres of the world. It is the noisiest place of Brasilia, where the work force from the satellite cities arrives and departs every day.

Map of Sound Excursion

Instructions to Excursion Participants

The map above shows six different listening points of interest. Some of these are places where workshop participants have made sound recordings for their compositions.

You will be given ear plugs for this excursion. Please, wear them every time you travel in the car and take them out as soon as we have arrived at a listening point of interest. You will hear a sound signal when it is time to return to the car.

NOTE: The focus is listening: Please, refrain from talking throughout the duration of this excursion unless of course, there was an emergency.

1. Military Sector: Listen to the relative quiet here after car travel; flagpoles like chimes in the wind; the "concha acoustica", a place for soundmaking: listen to your sounds as they are bounced around by this architectural structure.

market 2. Market under television tower: This is a weekend market. Spend 20 minutes here. Let the sounds and your curious ear determine your route through the market. At the end let your ears be drawn to the fountain just east of the market to meet the group.

cathedral 3. Cathedral: Here we will split into two groups for the exploration of the whisper gallery. In order to get the full acoustic effect to the whisper gallery, talking, whispering or some kind of soundmaking is required. The aim is to communicate with the other person on the opposite side of the cathedral. You may have to move aound a bit to find the optimum spot. You can discuss secrets. No one else in the cathedral will be able to hear you. What other sounds do you hear? [At this point in the sound excursion one of the workshop participants showed us a round ceremonial space in another part of the cathedral building. As soon as we entered it we spontaneously started to chant long tones. I am convinced that it was the acoustic and visual design of this room that had generated this reaction. We stayed for at least 30 more minutes. No one minded this unplanned delay. Quite the opposite, it heightened our awareness of the soundscape and created new energy for the remainder of the excursion.]

Superquadra 4. Superquadra: This is one of the many designed residential areas in Plano Pilato. Take 20 minutes to explore its soundscape (see map). if you don't want to walk, there are plenty of shady places to sit and listen. What sounds emanate from the apartment blocks? From the lawns, tress and bushes? Think back to your own home and compare soundscapes. Listen to the signal. Meeting place is at the small church.

5. University: Explore the sounds of architectural structures and sculptures.

lakeshore 6. Lake Shore: Spend 10 minutes listening. Bamboo in the wind. Water. Birds, People. The signal will announce the official end of the sound excursion.

Brasilia Compositions Brasilia Workshop Brasilia Article