Accepted Paper:

Unique sounds and signs: the case of Venice  


Antonio Marazzi (University of Padova, Italy)

Paper short abstract:

Venice has a unique sonic environment. The symbolic unity of the city is represented by the sound of its huge bell, the 'marangona'. And the whole city has no street noises of cars and buses, but sonic signals for high tide or fog.

Paper long abstract:

All over the city of Venice, the sound of the huge bell, the'marangona', is heard from San Marco square at noon and midnight: she is called 'the owner of the city', stressing symbolic unity.

Historically, the five bells of San Marco gave the rhythms to all social activities, from work hours to public meetings, political events and religious ceremonies, till death executions.

A unique soundscape still characterizes the modern city: no street noises from cars or buses, no horns; but an OE! shouted by the boatmen at the narrow canals' crossings; the warnings announcing a high tide by a modulated alarm reaching every corner of the city; the low-tone sirens from the boats, when the fog covers the lagoon. And the silence in the narrow streets, interrupted by the steps of a passer-by. And the lively cosmopolitan athmosphere at the piers, where the most diverse languages mix while the tourists squeezed in a small space are waiting for the water-bus.

Listen to the sounds and silences of Venice and you will feel the soul of the city, beneath its visual splendour.

(with sound reproductions from the field)

Panel MB-SAR01
Aural anthropology