Urban Soundscape

Safeya Alblooshi is a Kawader Fellow currently working as a research assistant in the field of music and sound cultures under the supervision of Associate Professor of Music Carlos Guedes.

Safeya Alblooshi views urban environments as audio compositions, and considers individuals in these environments to be the composers of the sounds we hear. Her approach to urban environments reflects the growing field of acoustic ecology, which studies the soundscape of particular habitats, and how different living species interact with it. 

Safeya completed her Bachelor of Arts at NYU Abu Dhabi, majoring in music, and minoring in interactive media. For her Capstone project, Safeya produced an immersive audiovisual installation, for which she investigated sounds of water contamination processes, analyzing their impact on the environment within the UAE.

Her work challenged conventional notions of sound as mere background noise, and highlighted its role as a means for understanding and addressing issues of pollution. Safeya prompts us to think more critically about the sounds our day-to-day activities produce and the impact they have on those around us. 

Using found objects, field recordings, the piano, the computer, and analog technology, Safeya additionally engages with topics of conceptual narrative, and interactivity in performance and acoustic territories. In doing so, she curated a sound project for the Open Studios (2019) at the NYU Abu Dhabi Arts Center, assisted with “We Are Not Alone,” an AV soundwalk for Louvre Abu Dhabi (2020), and worked on preparing sound for live performances and moving imagery at the EXPO 2020 in Dubai.

As a Kawader Fellow, Safeya investigates how musical techniques can be used to interpret different spaces and dimensions. Her research project, which explores the relationship between sound and space, takes an interdisciplinary approach rooted in practice. Safeya surveys how people familiar with certain urban soundscapes perceive specific sounds that are commonly heard in those environments, compared to how people who are unfamiliar with those environments perceive the same sounds. She is interested in exploring how familiarity with a particular soundscape might shape our perceptions and emotional responses to the sounds we hear in that environment.

Through her research, Safeya will investigate the difference in “the ears of an outsider to urban environments compared to those of a local,” and to explore how certain sounds can be redefined through an artistic sound installation. The installation will act as a representation of the acoustic locations she has recorded, and she intends to use the audience as a means to trigger change in the soundscape. By doing so, Safeya aims to reconstruct the relationship between the outsider and the local listener, and between the composer and the audience. Investigating these differences in perception, Safeya hopes to identify ways to create more positive and inclusive sonic environments.

Safeya emphasizes the importance of resources provided to Kawader Fellows in allowing for adequate pursuit of their research interests. “With the guidance of my Kawader project supervisor, I was able to rethink my research project so that it could combine my interests in both environmental sound and narrative storytelling based on sound,” Safeya said.

Her Kawader project is a testament to how the program encourages its participants to embrace innovative approaches in their research pursuits.