Auditory identity in city’s transports


Source: japan-railway-ipod-ad-290

Nowadays it is common practice to use personal sound devices whilst commuting in the city. In the late seventies, Sony  launched the ‘Walkman’, the first portable sound device, also called the ‘Soundabout’ in the United States. Later the development of technology enabled in 1984 the introduction to the CD player and most recently the MP3 portable devices. The launch of the first IPod (2001) by Apple was an event – this was the first mobile device that enables a personal music library of 1000 songs with an Apple feel and design and slim of a pocket size.

Michael Bull argued that personal sound devices help us in many ways to cope in urban spaces. Firstly, he suggested that users wanted to reclaim time by extending their private experience. Then, to cope with increasing saturated visual urban spaces (Bull, 2000). Indeed the visuality of the city is mainly feeds with commercial messages, the music could help to get away. According to Shaun Moores the music is a medium that enables the doubling of space. Moores applied Scannell (1996) theory of the doubling of space originally for the radio and television to electronic media like the mobile phone, and internet services. He found that those new devices have the same instantaneous transmission of information through large spacial distances (Moores, 1996). We can be in the train physically commuting to work and in the same time be immersed in a private space created via ears plug and MP3 listening solo our preferred songs.

The IPod became a cultural icon, the device enables users to project their own identities whilst in public spaces. We talk about the IPod culture, MP3s enable people to have a large playlist of music to choose from (Bull, 2007). The marketing Apple iPod is based around ideas of urban lifestyle, the Apple feel, design and the idea to carry a part of auditory identity.



Bull, M. (2007) Sound moves: iPod culture and urban experience, London: Routledge

Bull, M. (2000) Sounding out the city: personal stereos and the management of everyday life, Oxford: Berg – Chapter 2

Moores, S. (1996) Satellite Television and Everyday Life, London: John Libbey.


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