The Sounding Cultures of Football

As a child I had a running commentary in my head when I was playing. It wasn’t really my own voice It was the voice of Pierre Cangioni. Every time I heard his voice I would run towards the TV as close as I could get for as long as I could. It wasn’t that his words were so important but the tone, the accent the atmosphere was everything…

When you are immersed in the game, you don’t really hear the crowd. You can almost decide for yourself what you want to hear. You are never alone. I can hear someone shift around in their chair. I can hear someone coughing. I can hear someone whisper in the ear of the person next to them. I can imagine that I can hear the ticking of a watch.

Zinedine Zidane (from Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno)

…the collective song and intoxicating sound of the crowd does not just provide an accompaniment to the beautiful action of the players, but is the sublime matrix out of which play emerges, the force field that energises the action…

Simon Critchley (from What we think about when we think about football).

Get some chalk on your boots! is a project developed by Sound Diaries and led by Paul Whitty from the SARU (Sonic Art Research Unit) in the School of Arts at Oxford Brookes University. The purpose of the project is to investigate the everyday sounding cultures of football. The conference and exhibition will investigate football through an exploration of its sounding cultures. Football is a sonic spectacle; an auditory delight; a sport that thrives on the physical energy of sound. The sounds of football are part of our daily lives: the ephemeral grassroots soundings of parish council pitches; the buzz of late night radio commentary; the roar of the crowd seeping out into the night and spreading like a firm mist across nearby streets; the on-pitch communication of the players – stick it in the mixer!; corner flags whipped into sound-making action by the breeze; the crack as a ball strikes the crossbar; the thud of the football on boot then grass and soil as the goalkeeper sends it long down field; the incessant voice of the popular media; the rattle of the line-marker and the slosh of paint as the pitch is marked out; the clatter of football boots on concrete or the sounds as they are struck together to remove mud; the resonant corridors of the stadium; football talk at the pub – on the bus – in the cafe; the slam of plastic seats as the crowd stand – craning to see a corner; the conflict between the corporate stadium sound system and the oral culture of the ultras; the cries of joy and despair; the referee’s whistle; and the quiet calm – the void – of the stadium after the game, when the crowd has gone.

IMG_5839Cerretoli, Italy (Photo: Paul Whitty)

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