Object structure


Reverberation as Mimetic Replication: Urban Space, Metro Buskers and Acoustic Experience


Ethnologia Polona 39 2018 (2019)


Wees, Nick


Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology Polish Academy of Sciences

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ill. ; 24 cm

Subject and Keywords:

reverberation ; resonance ; mimesis ; acoustic perception ; busker ; metro musician ; architectural acoustics ; urban space


This article examines the essential role of reverberation in everyday spatial experience and argues that the perception and production of reverberation – along with the related concepts of resonance and echo – is an example of an innate mimetic capacity residing in both living beings and seemingly inert matter. Reverberation, and acoustic experience more generally, are explored in relation to urban space, with attention paid to the transformation of sense experience in modernity. Drawing on a range of authors, with reference to the work of Walter Benjamin in particular, this article proceeds from a primarily theoretical level to that of concrete human experience, with the example of buskers (street musicians) who perform in the highly reverberant spaces of Montreal’s underground metro system. Drawing on the author’s ethnographic research among metro musicians, this article demonstrates that reverberation is a vital element in busker practices and experience, and argues that, in their practices and in their effects on space and passersby, metro buskers make evident – make perceptible – the mimetically reverberant relations between body and space, and between self and other.


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Ethnologia Polona



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0137-4079 ; doi:10.23858/EthP39.2018.003


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Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

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