Geographisches Institut Johannes Gutenberg- Mainz Universitäet email@example.com
In 1994, I went to Lisbon for the first time. Expecting a relaxing sum- mer holiday and without any scientific geographical knowledge on my mind yet, I used my time on the plane to read through some travel guides about Portugal, purchased at the airport. I had no idea what to expect from this country at the western shores of the Iberian Peninsula, beyond the stereotypical amalgam of sun, port wine, and some decent soccer. Lisbon, Portugal’s capital, triggered no additional association for me. At this premass-internet time, my first encounter with Lisbon came through those travel guides that I had purchased, describing visual sights at Castelo São Jorge, Praça do Comércio, and Torre de Belem. My literature also never failed to mention Fado—portrayed as the most typical Portuguese music genre and a cultural acoustic symbol.
The concept of Saudade as part of Fado music (see Baldroegas 2013) was rather inaccessible to me, at least at first. A longing for both the broad empti- ness of the ocean combined with a deep rootedness in the homeland, the deep and sometimes indescribable pain combined with a pure joy for life didn’t come naturally to me. The diachronic feelings Portuguese writer Manuel de Melo once described as “a pleasure you suffer, an ailment you enjoy” remai- ned hidden behind an unscalable wall of cultural alien-ness. Of course, after landing in Lisbon I soon forgot about Fado and was captured by the city’s visual attractions that so often predominantly define our experience of place. Although I didn’t encounter much live music while strolling Baixa’s stores as a tourist and climbing the old stony stairs towards the Castelo above the ancient Alfama Quarter, in retrospect it seems that Fado, or at least the concept of it, had always been there with me. Adding music to the memories of my first Lisbon travel must have happened much later, as I didn’t actually listen to any Fado for at least another two years. In my memories today, the music is added naturally, completing Lisbon’s soundscape even though I never heard it while I was there. I’ve always wondered where the association between Fado and my memories of Lisbon came from.
While thinking about my contribution to this book, I was skipping throu- gh my DVD collection to pick a movie to watch with my wife one evening. My eyes fell on Wim Wenders’ Lisbon Story. Wenders, who coincidently also went to Lisbon in 1994 to shoot this movie (no, I didn’t see him filming the- re), often tries to cinematically reimagine a country’s culture and its sense of place—think about Paris, Texas and the depiction of the USA. In the case of Lisbon Story, the Saudade-amplifying Fado soundtrack depicts main character Phillip Winter’s alien fascination for being lost in Portugal’s metropolis, the music offering viewers an acoustic place image that one cannot actually en- counter when walking the streets of Lisbon. Thus, I decided to use the example of Lisbon Story to investigate how the city is imagined through sound in film.
To uncover Fado’s imaginative potential on screen, I will talk about its cultural importance for both Lisbon and Portugal, starting with an investiga- tion of Lisbon’s acoustic landscape (i.e., soundscape). In 2009, more than ten years after my first trip to Lisbon, I returned to the city, now holding a Ph.D. in geography and bringing along twenty students who were willing to learn more about urban soundscapes. Acoustic environments have been the subject of several studies since the 1960s, foremost in acoustic ecology. My students and I walked the streets and asked locals about the most typical sounds of Lisbon. Unsurprisingly, Fado came up as one of the most important sounds. Following up on the results - I will talk more about those in section “Lisboa é sempre Lisboa?” - , I shift my focus away from the overall soundscape of the city to a closer and more specific investigation of Lisbon Fado. In early 2015, I investigated the meaning of Fado for both the individual Portuguese listener as well as for the country as a whole. After mapping live music venues and con- ducting approximately 300 questionnaire-based interviews, the rare appearance of Fado in Lisbon’s acoustic environment became striking. The fact that Fado can almost never be heard on-site contradicts both people’s perception of Fado as being one of the most prominent sounds in Lisbon and the imagination of the city through Fado in Wenders’ Lisbon Story.
The discrepancy of both filmic and subjective imagination on one side, and the empirical findings of my field work on the other, leads me to consider different representations of the city through environmental participation and media consumption, as well as the effects those representations have on expe- rience of place. I argue that either encounter with Lisbon might result in the same object of thought, or, more specifically, jointly create an amalgam that supports both environmental and media experience without loosing consistency. Methodologically, I will start with acoustic ecology’s environmental soundscape studies (e.g., Schafer 1994; Truax 1996) to describe basic principles of sound analysis. Regarding media, I draw from Zimmermann’s film analysis (2007b) on popular culture movies representing the Orient, adding the contemporary approach for media soundscape evaluation as promoted by Wissmann (2014) and Wissmann and Zimmermann (Wissmann and Zimmermann 2010; Wissmann and Zimmermann 2015). My theoretical approach is grounded in sense of place discussions in media geography (e.g., Aitken and Zonn 1994; Adams 2009), as well as the investigation of imaginative geographies (e.g., Driver 1999; Said 2003).
When we think about a place, we generally have a somewhat distinct idea of what it is like. Cultural values, traditions, and common behavior merge into a stereotypical image. Like drawing a topographic map, we generalize the information about a place and create an individual mental amalgam of it. Categorizing and classifying the world and its phenomenological objects is essential in order to create a sense of reality. “[M]ind requires order, and order is achieved by discriminating and taking note of everything, placing everything of which the mind is aware in a secure, re-findable place, therefore giving things some role to play.” (Said 1977: 166) In Orientalism, (2003) Edward Said introduces the term imaginative geographies to express that meaning is always being ascri- bed individually, and must not be considered an ontological fact inherent to “all things” (Said 1977: 167). He further adds that imaginative geographies do not require approval of any external source, but can be created by one single individual or a group. While the images created by individuals and/or groups of people most certainly never coincide, every image has to be considered “real” in a subjective, constructivist sense. “These images can be regarded as real, not because they reproduce the world accurately but because they reflected and sustained people’s imagination of that world; and in turn, helped to influence the worlds we still inhabit.” (Driver 1999: 212) Places like countries and cities are defined by more than latitude and longitude alone. Following Said, many authors have adopted the idea of imaginative geographies (cf., Gregory 1995b; Rose 1995) and linked them to media. “[W]e all gain knowledge about some places through direct personal experience (for example, by growing up there or visiting for a ho- liday). However, we also gain a vast amount of knowledge about places that we have not been to and experienced for ourselves.” (Light 2008: 7) Zimmermann (2007a) points out that early geographic writings, such as the ones of German geographer Ewald Banse, recognize the influence of travelogues to shape the reader’s view of the world (see Banse 1932). In addition to academic publi- cations and “serious” travel literature, unknown places are being experienced through fictitious literary genres, from nineteenth century descriptions of Egypt (Gregory 1995a) to contemporary pictures of South America (Said 2003), and even futuristic cyberpunk worlds (Kitchin and Kneale 2001).
Imaginative geographies extend the mental projection of places but have an impact on the lived experience. Media images add to environmental percep- tion, with practices and media representations co-shaping each other (Aitken and Zonn 1994). In times of mass media, the social web, and portable smart communication devices, media has a rising impact on the creation of place images. There is “an ever greater dependence on the effect that is generated by a secondary sense of space.” (Wissmann 2014: 372)
With the recognition of imaginative geographies and the rising significance of media on everyday lives, media geography became a popular sub-discipline in human geography at the end of the twentieth century (Burgess and Gold 1985; Adams 2009). In addition to literature (Barnes and Duncan 1992) and virtual worlds (Crang, Crang, and May 1999), film was the medium investigated most intensively (Aitken and Zonn 1994; Lukinbeal and Zimmermann 2008).
“Accordingly, film geographers have developed research into: (1) how particular meanings are indeed ascribed to people and place as they appear on screen. […]; (2), how the meanings of on-screen peoples and places interconnect with meanings asserted by other mediums […]; and (3), the interplay between technology and the sensory environment.” (Aitken and Dixon 2006: 327) Media co-shapes ex- ternal images of places but also influences the way people perceive their own countries, regions, or hometowns. As Mitchell and Stadler show for Australian cinema, geography and the depiction of landscape are heavily used to create national identity (2010). Thus, film not only describes place with its own aesthetics and interpretations, but also actively influences everyday life and the way we perceive the world. As Western cultures are predominantly visual cultures, cinema and television can be considered the most influential types of media, requiring a detailed apparatus of interpretation and methodological approaches (Rose 2012). In comparison with other media geographic areas of research, such as print, audio, and the internet—while at least the latter receives rising attention today—, the highest number of publications are still dedicated to the moving picture (cf., Zonn 2007). With regard to Lisbon Story, studying “the interrelations between film and the politics of social and cultural representation, and the use of film as a means toward understanding our place in the world” (Aitken and Zonn 1994: 5) becomes especially interesting as the social implications of UNESCO’s intangible world heritage Fado resonate in contemporary reception of the film.
Whether it is the depiction of the landscape or of cultural elements such as folk music, film imagines a world that is deeply linked with the “real”. Imaginative geographies are most easily associated with fictitious settings such as in secondary worlds—coherent but non-realistic worlds (see Kneale 2003). For example, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, George Lucas’ Tatooine, and James Cameron’s Pandora are all imagined places. But what about the depiction of a city like Lisbon? Lisbon Story is produced as an homage to filmmaking and wants to deliver an authentic picture of the Portuguese metropolis. The decision to not only center the film around Fado but the real band Madredeus - all the actors playing themselves (if ‘playing’ oneself wouldn’t be fictitious par excellence)—suggests the representation of a world that can be experienced ‘in real life’. This, of course, cannot be true unless media’s impact on the imagination of place is being acknowledged. In reverse, representations “are not the polar opposite of reality especially when it comes to film and cinema. Cinematic images are always socialized just as technologies are always socialized” (Lukinbeal and Zimmermann 2006: 322).
Film both imagines and represents culture. It seems like Kracauer’s conclusion on the detective novel (1979) could also be used for popular culture film: Due to stereotypical characters, generalized places of action, and an easy-to-follow storyline, film shows the viewer a more precise picture of society than real-life experience would allow (see also Wissmann and Zimmermann 2010: 374). Likewise, Wenders’ film “Paris, Texas has received considerable critical acclaim and academic attention not only in terms of its representation of contemporary American culture, but also with the way it grounds that culture in place and landscape images” (Aitken and Zonn 1994: 3).
In addition to its moving pictures, the soundtrack of a film also displays cultural traditions, social life, and political discourse. As the next section will show, Wenders uses Fado to describe Lisbon in accordance to contemporary sociocultural expectations and stereotypical imaginations. Fado is presented as a bearer of cultural meaning—as being essential to Portuguese culture. Thus, Lisbon Story’s soundtrack becomes the soundtrack of an imagined Portugal, one that is supposed to identify itself via elements such as Saudade and Fado (and red wine and soccer—to complete the picture).
Music, investigated in a separate field of media geography, particularly evokes emotion. “Music beckons: It beckons thought. It beckons feeling. It beckons joy” (Curti and Craine 2011). Referring to specific locations, it has the ability to co-shape sense of place, as Pesses (2009) shows for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ imagination of Los Angeles (e.g., the 1991 song “Under The Bridge” from the album Blood Sugar Sex Magix). Music played on public radio stations and home stereos has the potential to foster national identity (Kuhlke 2009). As part of the audiovisual imagination in a movie, music can create “an audiovisual archive if not a cinematographic atlas” of a city (Castro 2010: 151). Thus, watching a film provides the viewer with an idea of how a place “is”. The image might appear more realistic if it is created out of an amalgam of on-site experience and media consumption. Places we have never been to can become mysterious through the media-only encounter (see Light 2008). It seems that Lisbon, with the emotional character of Fado, including the ambivalent feelings of Saudade, is predestinated to receive a somewhat mysterious image. As Wenders could not have produced a movie about Lisbon without Fado (Luetzow 2003), the latter being “in the interlacing of mythology, history, memory and place” (Elliott 2010: 1), we have to listen very closely to what we can hear in both Lisbon Story and on the city’s streets themselves.
Acoustic Ecology’s Fieldwork
So, “what in the world do we hear?” as Gaver asks in his 1993 paper (Gaver 1993). Sound, being part of the experience of the urban environment, always co-shapes our imagination of the city. As visual impressions predominate our perception, specific sensitization to sound is needed if its creative potential is to be investigated. The act of “ear cleaning” is often named as the starting point (Werner 2006), where visual surroundings are deliberately ignored in favor of focusing on the input from acoustic sources (e.g., sitting on a bus with eyes shut, listening only to its motor, the wheels, passengers’ voices, etc.) (Truax 2002). When Schafer co-founded the World Soundscape Project in 1969, the focus of environmental experiences shifted towards the city’s hearable elements. Divided into the three categories of nature sounds, human sounds, and electro- nic/mechanical sounds (Truax 1978), acoustic ecology deconstructs the urban soundscape, helping the listener to better understand what s/he is listening to. The cacophony of birds singing, people talking, and cars humming becomes accessible through a detailed process of cataloging single sound events into one of the three categories. One can differentiate between high and low pitch, slow and fast decay, and the permanence, repetitiveness, or singular occurrence of a sound event. Adding decibel measurements and - equally important - indi- vidual evaluation, the complex soundscape of the city can be understood and investigated further.
To get a first impression of the acoustic environment in a city such as Lisbon, one can start off with a soundwalk. “A soundwalk is any excursion whose main purpose is listening to the environment. It is exposing our ears to every sound around us no matter where we are” (Westerkamp 1974: n.p.). Werner, member of the World Soundscape Project’s revival in 1996, describes walking through downtown Lisbon as follows: “We’ve explored […] places in the ‘white city at the Tejo’ with the microphone: the placid Bica quarter, the polyphonic jackhammers in the Rua do Carmo, praying men in the church Igreja do Lorento, the market hall Mercado da Ribeira Nova, a pub-philosopher in a Fado bar, the echo of a soccer game in Alfama’s alleys, the swinging gangways at the Tejo - and the tram, again and again the tram” (Werner 2006: 105 (translated by the author)). Werner detects the three most typical sound events in Lisbon: Canary birds, the tram, and the Tejo River. Building upon those findings, I performed audio recordings and soundwalks to close in on Lisbon as a research area.
To get a better understanding for environmental soundscape of Lisbon, I started my own research with the first phase of grounded soundwalks. The Alfama Quarter, typically mentioned as the most unique part of the city, was my first the place to visit: “People (I would guess two men) are yelling at each other. I cannot see them, but they sound angry and emotional. A boy walks by, then two older women. There is a light chop or ripple of water. As I walk across the triangle I can see a fountain where water falls into a stony basin. I try to record only the water as I step closer. The Rua Norberto de Araújo goes uphill and is rather quiet. I cannot locate where the traffic sounds are coming from. It is so quiet that the wind shaking some leaves and flowers should be heard in the recording” (Wissmann 2014: 110). These soundwalks, enhanced through pictures taken on-site for further documentation by a second researcher, builds the foundation for my investigation of Lisbon’s soundscape. The recordings do not display the most typical sounds, nor do they reveal the most significant places for sound recording. Soundwalks are used to sensitize oneself to the acoustics of the research area and provide an idea of the quantity and quality of the existing sound events.
Standing in the ruins of Castelo São Jorge above Alfama and downtown at Baixa, experiencing the sometimes arbitrary, sometimes well-planned network of streets, watching the waters of the slow running Tejo River and the liveliness of high-lying Bairro Alto allows for many visual and acoustic impressions. Most memorable is the traffic from cars and busses, while an ambulance siren and a ship’s horn cut through the acoustic background from time to time. Visiting exposed spots such as the Castelo, and performing a number of soundwalks all over Lisbon led to a better understanding of where to perform subsequent single sound recordings.
In the second phase of the study, I organized teams of researchers to investigate the acoustic qualities of seven research areas, covering all major urban areas. In total, five hundred and sixty sound samples were collected. Each sound recording contains a single sound event that was categorized according to its source. The three categories of human sounds, nature sounds, and technology sounds mainly match acoustic ecology’s vocabulary (Schafer 1994), although the latter term is newly created as a contemporary equivalent to mechanical and electrical sounds (Wissmann 2014: 104). To better understand the significance and qualities of each sound event, all recordings were divided into three soundscape elements: keynote, signal, and soundmark. Schafer (1969) promotes this deconstruction of the soun- dscape, making it more accessible for further analysis. The keynote describes the background of the soundscape, (e.g., sounds from traffic in the case of an urban environment). “[K]eynote sounds are those which are heard by a particular society continuously or frequently enough to form a background against which other sounds are perceived” (Truax 1978: n.p.). More distinct sounds, (i.e., signals), carry cultural meaning and stick out of the mass of keynote sounds. An ambulance siren and a ship’s horn are examples of the signal. “Signals are foreground sounds and they are listened to consciously” (Schafer 1994: 10). While any listener can hear a signal without knowing its symbolic meaning, the latter is crucial in order to understand its full meaning and act accordingly. Thus, an ambulance’s siren affects the driver of a car due to its loudness and unique characteristics, but it only gets her/him to make way if the siren’s meaning is deconstructed properly (i.e., “make some room, I have to get through, now”). Individual understanding and sociocultural meaning are even more essential for the third soundscape element: the soundmark. “A term derived from ‘landmark’ […] to refer to a community sound which is unique, or possesses qualities which make it specially regarded or noticed by the people in that community” (Truax 1978: n.p.).
An urban soundscape can never be fully understood through recording single sound events alone. Ascribed meaning, significance, and impact have to be developed through an open dialogue with the local population. In two hundred and forty-seven quantitative, standardized interviews, people living in Lisbon answered questions not only about the most significant and typical Lisbon sounds, but also about sounds they think of as soundmarks. The results show significant similarities to Werner’s prior research. The tram was mentioned most often (34%), followed by traffic (25%). The third most typical sound for Lisbon, according to the questionnaire (Wissmann 2014: 111), is Fado (21%). This number is most remarkable, as Fado music did not show up in any of the five hundred and sixty sound samples. So, why do 21% of the people surveyed name Fado as one of Lisbon’s soundmarks, if it is only a marginal part of the natural soundscape of the city? A time shift might answer this question. As stated above, sound event recording took place during the daytime, missing out on the late evening and night times, when most live music is performed. This lacuna is addressed in the 2015 Fado study.
The study on Fado in early 2015 builds on previous findings regarding Lisbon’s soundscape. It focuses on Fado, allegedly one of the most typical sound events to be heard in the city. In about three hundred questionnaire based interviews, locals were asked to talk about their associations with Fado, concerning cultural heritage and place recognition. 79.79% of the respondents stated that they do like Fado and 55.36% even agreed with the sentence “Fado is my heritage”. Accordingly, more than 70% personally listened to Fado and 62.72% reported having attended a live Fado performance. After reviewing the questionnaire responses, it seems that Fado plays an integral role for Lisbon’s residents and its cultural performance. One consequence arising out of those findings is the necessity to locate the places where Fado is being performed. While previous sound event recordings did not capture a single Fado sample (see above), place and time had to be adjusted accordingly.
A quick Internet search reveals: “When visiting Lisbon, spending a night at a ‘casa de Fado’ or Fado restaurant is an essential experience. There are many in the Bairro Alto district, but the most authentic are found in Alfama” (Fernandes and Warwick 2015). A discussion about authenticity is an entirely different topic, one that I will address in a future paper. However, I would like to point out that live Fado performances are generally linked to the tourism sector, and that adaptations - such as internationally adjusted menus and seating options for larger groups - are popu- lar. For my ongoing investigation, location was of greater importance. Although various websites recommend several Casa de Fado and usually mention both Bairro Alto and Alfama as quarters with the most venues, a thematic map showing names and locations is missing. Research at the Fado Museum at Largo do Chafariz de Dentro reveals a decent listing of Fado venues, while Lisbon’s official website does not hold any permanent information about Fado at all.
Because of the lack of cartographic material, mapping Fado music venues became a necessary intermediate step. Only with the place-based knowledge from mapping can the occurrence of Fado sounds be detected and analyzed in context of the overall environmental soundscape. It is important to note that, while there may exist more Fado venues than the ones revealed by the present study, a complete capture of locations is not the study’s designated target. The approach is to locate those urban spots where Fado is actually hearable as part of the urban soundscape, not to prove the existence of potential sound sources. “As bright yellow trams wind their way through curvy tree-lined streets, Lisboêtas stroll through the old quarters, much as they’ve done for centuries. Village-life gossip in old Alfama is exchanged at the public baths or over fresh bread and wine at tiny patio restaurants as fadistas (proponents of Fado, Portugal’s traditional melancholic singing) perform in the background” (Lonely Planet 2015).
Tourist imaginations of Fado as the ever-present keynote to the Lisbon experience do not concur with real-life. Sound insulation and business hours limit the audibility of Fado, in addition to a small number of actual Fado locations. In several pretests and preceding inquiries, including the aforemen- tioned questionnaire, the most interesting research areas as well as the best time for sound recordings were determined. Fado venues are mainly located in two central parts of the city: Bairro Alto and Alfama. Business hours generally extend from late evenings to about 2am. Consequently, in most places, Fado cannot be heard during the day or early evening.
As figure 1 shows, the two research areas Bairro Alto and Alfama are lo- cated in the very center of the city, close to the Tejo River. To cover the area most effectively, each area was subdivided into six parts that were inspected by researchers in pairs of two. Thus, every street and house could be checked for Fado venues, and mobile street artists could also be questioned. As figure 2 shows, music venues are often hard to recognize, even when they are open. If closed and not displaying visual identification, it becomes impossible to locate the venues at all. During daytime mapping, residents were asked to support the study with their local knowledge. Thus, it was possible to find out about locations that otherwise would not have been detected in the network of Alfama’s winding roads, narrow arches, and small staircases.
In the Alfama research area (see figure 3), twenty Casas de Fado were registered on two weekend nights, adding Fado sound events to the quarter’s soundscape. Most of the venues are clustered around Rua dos Remédios / Rua do Vigário (locations 9–13, 18–20 on the map). A second accumulation can be found southeast of Sé de Lisboa cathedral (locations 2–4,6,7). No Fado could be heard in the area around Castelo de São Jorge. Most Casas de Fado are easy accessible, located close to major roads near the Tejo River. To investigate the acoustic impact of Fado emerging from the music venues, a new mapping technique was implemented. Sound samples were taken as close to the sound source as possible (a venue’s entrance, or even the stage where Fado was being performed). Then, researchers detected the area where Fado was the dominant sound event in contrast to all other sound events creating the soundscape. Distances of dominance were measured to the right, left, back, and, if possible, in front of the venue’s entrance (with the researcher facing the entrance as the directional reference point). Subsequently, the distances of Fado still audible furthest from the venue were recorded. Sound insulation due to closed entrance doors was the factor that most limited Fado from emerging into the Lisbon soundscape. Another important factor was competing sound sources. Nearby restaurants, bars, and loud crowds of people crucially affected the data, for both the dominance and overall audibility of Fado.
The Bairro Alto research area contains thirteen Casas de Fado recorded during the study (figure 4). While the number of venues is considerably smaller than in Alfama, the accumulation of non-Fado music locations is noticeably larger. There are eighty-five bars, clubs, and restaurants playing either recorded or live music, adding to Bairro Altos lively atmosphere as a nightlife district. The non-Fado venues dramatically impact the audibility of Fado, often drowning out the traditional music with much louder electronic pop music. However, even without any additional sound sources, Fado re- mains audible only within a few dozen meters of its source, fading into the keynote of the environmental soundscape.
In context of Lisbon’s overall environmental soundscape, Fado plays only a marginal role. Typically only found in the two research areas Alfama and Bairro Alto, Fado is, at least acoustically, not a dominant sound event of Lisbon.
I cannot continue m.o.s.!
Considering the fact that previous studies show only little relevance of Fado when it comes to Lisbon’s environmental soundscape, the question remains why it is still considered to be one of the most significant soundmarks of the city. In media, Fado plays an important role in imagining Lisbon, as the following section’s analysis of Lisbon Story will show. Generally, music in film adds to the visual impressions of the moving picture, co-shaping the atmospheres of places of action and narration. While music is part of the natural soundscape of a city and, thus, has to appear on screen to depict a convincing version of the latter, music is sometimes even the main theme of the story.
Wim Wenders’ Lisbon Story centers around Fado and its acoustic linkage to Lisbon. In 1994, when the shooting of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Above the Clouds was delayed, German filmmaker Wenders used his free time to travel to Lisbon to shoot a movie about Portugal’s capital city (Bickenbach, 2008). Plans for the film where soon altered to pivot on Fado, after Wenders heard Madredeus perform live. He states:
“I knew that very moment that they just HAD to make the music for the film. Half an hour later I knew also that I HAD to write a story that involved a band. This band [Madredeus]. […] Then they left for London to record their new album
[…], and I prepared my film and wrote a story for it […]. When they came back from London they had […] recorded 9 additional songs they suggested for the film, two of them instrumental. They were fantastic, all nine of them. It felt like a present: I hadn’t even started shooting the film, but could already listen to the soundtrack! And that was
‚not just‘ the music, but turned out to also be some sort of guideline through the city. When we shot the film, we always had the music with us. […] The city certainly had inspired this band and their music, now their music helped us to enter the city and find our way through it, and through our story. I have never made a film before that had been inspired so much by its music from the beginning” (Interview with Wim Wenders, booklet of Madredeus 1995).
The final product is an homage not only to Lisbon, but the centennial history of film, citing existing cinematic milestones, artists, and directors (Wim Wenders Stiftung 2015). But without Madredeus, Wenders would not have had a story to tell (Luetzow 2003). The plot centers on main character Philipp Winter (played by Rüdiger Vogler), a sound technician living in Berlin, Germany. One day, Winter receives a postcard from his filmmaker friend Friedrich Monroe (Patrick Bauchau), who is currently shooting a movie in Lisbon, Portugal. The message on the postcard contains a cry for professional help, as Monroe is still shooting without sound (in German filmmaking language known as “mit ohne Sound”, abbreviated as “m.o.s.”). He has reached a point where he cannot continue telling the story the way he wants to with moving images alone. So, Winter packs his sound gear and starts driving south, passing borders to France, Spain, and, finally, Portugal. In 1994, this is a brand new experience, as inner European travel had just become easier with the cessation of border controls. After his old Citroen fi- nally breaks down, Winter trades his car stereo for a ride in order to reach Lisbon. Arriving at Monroe’s place, he finds the apartment deserted. While waiting for Friedrich to return, he starts to acclimate himself. While settling in and making friends (some children interested in Monroe’s camera work visit sporadically), he starts to evaluate the already existing film material, finally meets Madredeus, and thus, encounters Fado. During his stay, Winter gets to know the city through his on-site sound recordings, and Fado through Madredeus’ rehearsal sessions next door. As the story proceeds, Winter becomes more comfortable with Lisbon and Fado. When he finally encounters Monroe, who has drifted into an almost senseless filming process where the material filmed is never actively selected nor watched afterwards by any audience, Winter has incorporated much of Lisbon’s imagined place identity. It seems that the acoustic approach to capturing the city’s sense of place has succeeded over the visual-only experiment.
There are several ways to analyze a movie such as Lisbon Story. According to Korte (2010) there are four dimensions of analysis. While film reality describes the content, action, and structure of a film, reality of conditions considers the place and time of where and when a film is shot. Questions about why a film was made in a specific fashion are of interest. Reality of effects investigates the latter, including the impact on the viewer. Aside from the visual experience, a film’s audio track(s),
Fado in Lisbon Story, are added to satisfy the viewer’s expectation of place. Acknowledging that music co-constructs place (see Stokes 1994), a film’s soundtrack serves as essential element for the imagination of place in media (Bull 2000: 96). As the fourth dimension of analysis, reality of relation contrasts the filmic repre- sentation of place with its environmental (“real”) counterpart (see Zimmermann 2007b). For Lisbon Story, Fado acts as an “aestheticization” that “creates the world as an imaginary space, a projection of the desire of the [recipient] formulated within the cultural remit of the stock of their imagination which is mediated through the attendant sounds listened to” (Bull 2000: 188).
Reality of relation is the dimension of analysis I am interested in. The mediated place image has to be deconstructed to contrast it with representations founded in environmental participation. Twenty years ago, Anderson (1996) recognized that this process does not require extensive film analysis. In a post- modern world, all we need for understanding a film is pluralism of methods, i.e., methods that serve the epistemological interest best. One common trinity of sound in a film is the one of occurring environmental sound, speech, and music (Monaco 2009). As this categorization would not lead to a deeper de- construction of Fado in Lisbon Story - i.e., Fado would simply be recognized as being music - I draw from acoustic ecologies holistic understanding of en- vironmental soundscapes, adding viable new categories for media soundscapes (Wissmann and Zimmermann 2015).
The representation of Lisbon in Wim Wenders’ Lisbon Story is an homage to Portugal’s capital and the cultural values of Fado and Saudade. While it praises the city it also emphasizes the postmodern understanding of the inability of media (perception) to answer ontological questions. Monroe’s misguided attempts to display the “real” Lisbon are uncovered and answered by Winter’s call to shoot images “with your heart” (01:31:24). Subjective and collective emotions, as embraced by Fado, seem to be adequate alternatives to producing and reading film—which also applies to Monroe’s filmic recordings. Before we discuss if such an approach can be successful, let us deconstruct Lisbon Story’s Fado and see how it serves to create place.
As mentioned above, acoustic ecology reveals three different soundscape elements that incorporate all environmental sound events. As Wissmann and Zimmermann (Wissmann and Zimmermann 2010; Wissmann and Zimmermann 2015) have shown for audio drama, keynote, signal, and soundmark can also be found in media soundscapes. In contrast to an environmental soundscape, each of the categories have to be adjusted to fully cover media sound events. (The latter, in contrast to environmental sound events, are named ‘sound objects’. This is to emphasize their artificial character—prerecorded and taken out of their “natural” context, i.e., not being a naturally occurring event. Sound objects are rearranged sound events that are used to generate an acoustic (media) representation of the world (see Truax 1996)). The keynote of a media soundscape contains all background sounds, inclu- ding music. “If music occurs during the narration to reinforce the atmosphere, it falls within the category of keynote sounds” (Wissmann and Zimmermann 2010: 377). This, of course, is fundamentally different than an environmental keynote, as we do not have a soundtrack playing while we walk through life (no Truman Show for us). Signals gain their meaning through the cultural system they belong to. In media, signals do not have to refer to their social, i.e. media, context, but have to match the recipient’s understanding. Thus, signals in a media soundscape do not only have to be plausible to the movie’s characters, but they first and foremost have to make sense for the audience watching the film. The siren of an ambulance not recognized as such would fail to add understanding and context for moviegoers. Like signals, soundmarks have to adopt the same two-pronged approach. There would be no reason to create soundmarks for movie characters that would go unnoticed by the audience. In addition to describing an important community sound for characters, viewers have to understand that a sound is of significant importance for either a specific community and/or place of action.
Beyond natural acoustic environments, media soundscapes consist of more than those three soundscape categories. While the sound of people talking can either be identified as part of a natural urban keynote or serve as a signal carrying additional context for the listener, the communication between movie characters describes a category of its own. Dialogue forms the fourth soun- dscape element of a media soundscape. Often occurring to signify a change of places of action music is added to the cinematic soundscape. Soundframe “is an event that has an influence on the atmosphere […] but no direct impact on the creation of the world” (Wissmann and Zimmermann 2010: 377). It is used as an emotional element to establish place meaning and helps to drive the story forward. Finally, sound in media can occur as a storyteller to provide an outlook on future events or to continue the storyline. Audible thoughts of a character and the voice of an all-knowing narrator are spoken examples of the storyteller, while music and environmental sounds can also be used as this sixth soundscape element, as examples below will show.
In about half of the 99:15 minutes of Lisbon Story, music is audible in the film. Breaking down all scenes containing music, Fado takes roughly the same amount of time as any other music—mainly the acoustic score (Fado: 22:44 min or 23.94%; other music 23.81%). Figure 5 shows the appearance in con- secutive order for the entire movie. In the first quarter of the movie, Fado is almost completely missing. This is due to the fact that the story begins in the German capital of Berlin and the depiction of Winter’s road trip to Portugal takes quite some time. Detached from the story, Fado is audible only two times for a short duration of seven seconds each (timecodes 00:02:13 and 00:03:22), accompanying the credits for Fadista and the band, “Teresa Salgueiro and Madredeus” as actors, and for the reference to “music by Madredeus”.
While Wenders uses the car stereo to create an acoustic road trip through Europe—there is language and music of German, French, and Spanish radio stations—Portugal lacks a musical introduction. As Winter’s car breaks down just before the Portuguese border, the musical support breaks down as well. While the main character struggles getting to Lisbon with all of his sound recording gear, the final part of his journey is mostly depicted without any music, except several excerpts from the film’s original score. Music nevertheless remains important during this sequence, as it is the very reason Winter can finally secure a ride to Lisbon, trading his car stereo for a lift: “My car has a radio. With cassette recorder. Dolby Stereo!” (00:11:20).
The establishing shot for Lisbon—a drive over Ponte de 25 Abril Bridge (00:12:09)—does not introduce Fado as a soundscape element. After Winter searches for and later settles into the apartment of his friend Friedrich Monroe (who is never present himself ), Fado is still not audible for another 17 minutes. Winter hasn’t been confronted with Fado’s tunes yet; so far, they do not carry any meaning for him.
A look at figure 6 reveals all places of action in consecutive order. The trip to Portugal is largely represented by scenes shot in Winter’s car, while most of the following story takes place in Monroe’s apartment, on Lisbon’s streets, and at Madredeus’ place. Combined with the car scenes from the beginning, those places of action account for about 80% of the movie. Thus, it is no wonder that most of the Fado music audible in Lisbon Story occurs in either Monroe’s apartment, at Madredeus’ place, or on the streets of Lisbon. Figure 7 not only shows that the most Fado—always performed by Madredeus—is audible in the band’s rehearsal room, but that almost no scene in this place of action happens without Fado music.
As stated above, Fado serves several purposes in Lisbon Story, not only as keynote sound to accentuate the rehearsal room of the famous Portuguese band. Figure 8 shows that Fado is used in various ways, serving as every soundscape element of a media soundscape. It appears as background keynote as place de- termining soundframe, and it sometimes even incorporates multiple meanings simultaneously. The percentages assigned to each soundscape element do not describe Fado’s runtime alone, but also considers its importance in regard to the overall scene and setting, as the following three examples will show.
The scene begins in Monroe’s apartment and marks Winter’s first encoun- ter with Fado. While he is examining Monroe’s raw film material (figure 9.1), Winter is distracted from his work as music begins to fade in, seemingly from another apartment on the same floor (figure 9.3). Thus, Fado acts as a signal.
Being affected by sound - causing a person to react to that sound - describes the very essence of a signal. Its meaning is two-fold. For the viewer, the movie (after more than 27 minutes) finally turns towards Fado and Teresa Salgueiro, leading actress and singer of Madredeus. Winter, who has obviously never listened to Fado before, is distracted so much by it that he not only pauses his work, but decides to follow the sound to its source (figure 9.4).
Simultaneously, Fado serves as keynote for the scene, while Winter is still working. Before he is affected by the music, the tunes simply add to the apartment’s atmosphere, bringing a ‘typical’ Portuguese element to the screen. From time to time, the raw film material Winter is working on is displayed full screen. Then, Fado provides Monroe’s so-far silent impressions of Lisbon’s streets and people with a seemingly authentic soundmark (figure 9.2). Thus, Lisbon is presented to the audience through moving images and music even before Winter himself starts to discover the city, including its environmental soundscape.
Finally, Fado acts as soundframe for both a change of places of action and the beginning of a new, alien way of living for Winter. When he starts listening actively to the music and tries to locate its source, Winter starts walking to the end of the room (figure 9.4). Visually, the color setting changes to blue, becoming more intense the further Winter walks away. Simultaneous with another increase in blue color and a higher volume of music, places of action change from Monroe’s apartment to Madredeus’ place.
When Winter opens the door to the rehearsal room (figure 10.1), the music reaches its highest peak and the camera shows the players of Madredeus with their instruments (figure 10.2). There is no spoken conversation. Winter is just listening, fascinated by the music and the overall setting. With Winter integrated into the new setting, Fado has served its purpose as soundframe. It is still a signal, carrying a different meaning. In contrast to acting as a dis- traction from his work, Fado now describes Winter’s journey into a new life, containing new colors and sounds. It seems to be no coincidence that the piece of music performed by Madredeus - titled “Guitarra” - is the first track on the film’s accompanying soundtrack. Most obviously, the music is also a sound-
mark for the rehearsal room, differing from its previous use as a soundmark for the overall city of Lisbon when showed in combination with Monroe’s film material (figure 10.2).
While it is too loud and present to be counted as keynote, Fado embodies a fifth soundscape element: storyteller. When Theresa starts singing, “Guitarra” introduces Winter to the concept of Saudade and a seemingly Portuguese way of imagining the world: “When a guitar trills - in the hands of a good player
That guitar is teaching - Anyone to sing” (Madredeus 1995). This first verse could be translated as follows: “Fado, performed by - Madredeus (a great band)
Is teaching Winter - The emotions of life (i.e., Saudade)”. The lyrics continue to explore those emotions: “I want my coffin - to have a bizarre shape - A shape of a heart -A shape of a guitar”. The references to coffins, hearts, and guitars display the dialectic quality of Saudade, bringing together both mortality and life. The third verse encourages this emotional medley, which might sound most confusing to a non-Portuguese, German outsider like Winter: “Guitar, beloved guitar - I come to cry with you - I feel that life is sweeter - when you cry with me” (figure 10.3). The smile on Winter’s face while listening to the song can be interpreted as him starting to sense a connection to Fado, Saudade, Lisbon, and, of course, Theresa (figure 10.4).
As figure E shows, Fado as signal is rated as most important in the “Into the Blue”-Scene. The latter marks Winter’s first contact with Fado and simul- taneously introduces the viewer to Wenders’ acoustic homage to Lisbon. He states: “[Lisbon] is a city having its very own unique music. And ultimately, the city revealed itself to us through this music” (Wim Wenders interviewed by Roger Willemsen. Bonus material in Wenders 2009). Until Winter enters Madredeus’ rehearsal room, Fado’s main purpose is as keynote. Its quality as storyteller, on the other hand, is weighted less significantly in context of the overall scene, as it - although being most present when Theresa is singing - accounts for only a relatively short period of time.
b) “Ainda”-Scene (00:32:17 to 00:37:13, total runtime: 00:04:56)
“Ainda” starts one minute after “Into the Blue” has ended, separated only by Winter introducing himself to the band members, everybody shaking han- ds and saying hello. Afterwards, the music starts again. Madredeus rehearses their next song - “Ainda” - for their upcoming tour. The song - also part of the original soundtrack - acts as five different soundscape elements, including the previously missing dialogue. Similar to the scene discussed above, Fado is still the soundmark for the rehearsal room, or, in a broader sense, Madredeus’ place. The content of the song is very important, as a translation of the provi- ded subtitles reveals. It acts as storyteller, recapping the status quo and giving an outlook to future events (Wissmann and Zimmermann 2010: 376), and it is part of the dialogue between Theresa and Winter. Both visually and acous- tically, the song, i.e., the scene, centers on the relationship between Winter and Theresa. Both protagonists are standing in a spotlight, in Winter’s case, switched on while the camera focuses on his face (see figure 11). Acoustically, the lyrics start a dialogue between Winter and Theresa:
“Certain things I said, - some others I learn. - They are truths, - they are questions” (Madredeus 1995). The words of the first verse are rather indistinct. In a Husserlian sense, Winter’s stream of consciousness is in a constant flow - his familiar life disrupted by the current situation. Staying in Lisbon - being there with Madredeus and Fado - will change him dramatically: “Friendships.
Adventures. - The one who arrives is far- from transforming his name”. When Theresa sings the first word “Aventuras” (i.e., adventures), she looks Winter in the eyes, establishing a dialogue throughout the song (figure 11.1). “The one who arrives” is also accompanied by her looking at Winter, thus explicitly referring to the German sound engineer. The transformation of Winter’s name (or “being”, German: “Dasein”) is yet to come, foreshadowing the evolving story.
During the performance, a somewhat mysterious boy appears in the doorway, drawing Winter’s attention, taking him away from the music. When Winter steps into the stairway, the boy is already at the entrance of the house (figure 11.2), leaving the building hastily. Until Winter returns to the rehearsal room Fado acts as keynote, as attention lies totally on the appearance and presence of the boy.
As the story progresses, Winter gets more and more accustomed to Fado, and he finally seems to understand its meaning. Theresa, shown in a rather shadowy profile, facing away from the viewer - this image is also being used as the soundtrack’s album cover art (figure 11.3) - directly reflects the depiction of Winter’s Fado experience (figure 11.4). With the last chord of “Ainda” the screen fades to black. Fado again acts as soundframe, marking a change in places of action and a leap in time.
In this scene, Fado as soundmark, keynote, and soundframe are of lesser importance than its usage as storyteller and dialogue (see figure 12). The con- versation of Theresa and Winter through Fado is impressive and important to the plot. The interconnection and overlapping of storyteller, soundmark, and dialogue shows the complexity of Fado, acting as multiple soundscape elements at once. It also explains the need for a weighting system beyond a counting of seconds, which would neither reflect nor reveal the multi-layer impact of Fado on imagining a sense of place.
c) “O Tejo”-Scene (00:41:59 to 00:44:20, total runtime: 00:02:21)
Like “Into the Blue”, the third exemplary scene titled “O Tejo” (i.e., the Tagus River) consists of two places of action. Before the music sets in, the viewer witnesses Winter recording environmental sounds while walking through the city. Most of them are clearly definable, acting as signals, even typical soundmarks for Lisbon. There is a famous ancient tram passing by (figure 13.1), people and vehicles leaving a ferryboat, and the sound of humming cars crossing Ponte de 25 Abril Bridge. Winter is pointing the microphone towards the different sound sources, his facial expression showing that he is completely focused on his work. Pausing his walk under the bridge, the quality of Winter’s sound recordings becomes less distinct. All sound sources are rather far away, resulting in a lack of clearly identifiable single sound events (figure 13.2). In the beginning, the scene’s keynote is mainly composed of traffic sounds (i.e., technology sounds) from sources on the bridge visible above Winter’s head. The scene then morphs into a more natural keynote, containing birds, water, and wind. The sources of these nature sounds are not visible in the movie, describing the abstraction of the environmental soundscape that soon afterwards changes into Fado.
Simultaneously with the fading out of birds, wind, traffic, and river, “O Tejo” sets in. Thus, Fado serves as a soundmark for the city as a whole, replacing Winter’s recordings of unique, typical, and influential local sound events. The fact that Winter is actually standing at the Tejo’s shores when “O Tejo” starts connects place and music, making Fado a signal for the river. Winter’s face looks distant, different from his unfocused eyes during his earlier environmental sound recordings (figure 13.2). The transformation towards understanding Fado and its meaning(s) that started in Madredeus’ rehearsal room continues. Fado is no longer shown imprisoned in the artificial setting of a rehearsal room, i.e., away from the urban landscape. Fado is set free, symbolizing the city itself.
Walking back to his temporary home, Fado’s meaning shifts towards beco- ming the keynote for the second part of the scene, until Winter enters Monroe’s place, looking out a window that leads to the patio. The acoustic quality of the song shifts from background soundtrack to music audible in the scene. The camera follows Winter’s gaze towards the patio, where Madredeus’ band members stand listening to their just-recorded “O Tejo”, played back through large speakers. Winter is completely caught up in the music, and it seems as though his thoughts and feelings are not only touched but also expressed through the melancholic yet promising character of the song. This signifies a radical change in Winter’s being. In contrast to his first rather alien encounter with Fado in the “Into the Blue” scene, Winter now seems to have adopted the music genre’s mood; from now on it appropriately expresses his inner feelings and state of mind. Considering the strong link between Portuguese tradition/ culture and the imaginative meaning of Fado (including its Saudade), I argue that, in this moment, Winter becomes Portuguese (figure 13.3).
Winter steps outside into the evening scene just after the first word of the song is sung. “Madrugada”, i.e. ‘dawn’, is a perfect example of Fado as storyteller (Madredeus 1995). It exactly describes what can be seen in the mo- vie, accentuating the narration (see Wissmann and Zimmermann 2010: 376). The following line “finds me a river” emphasizes the narration in the same way, as the camera cuts to the river with the Tejo in the background just as “a river” can be heard (figure 13.4). The twofold expression of the Tejo as both picture and song ultimately links Fado with Lisbon. Sound is reunited with the city as its source, changing from being a sound object - i.e., a recorded sound, detached from its environmental context (see Truax 1996: 50) - to a genuine sound event. While Winter explores the course of the Tejo using binoculars, Theresa starts a conversation: “How do you like it?” - Winter: “What? The river or your song?” - Theresa: “Both. They go together.” (00:43:33)
Towards the end of the scene, Fado fades into the background as Theresa and Winter discuss Madredeus’ plans to leave Lisbon for their upcoming tour. The connection of music and city is explicitly shown yet again when Winter, back inside, continues working on Monroe’s raw film material. With the acoustic quality changing once more, the song becomes a soundmark for Monroe’s silent visualization of Lisbon. When the lettering “Lisboa” expands twice, overlaying the moving images, I would argue that this should be read as follows: “This is Lisbon - Fado is Lisbon”.
There is another scene where Fado is performed live by Madredeus. When Winter and the band meet for a last time before they go on tour, they sit to- gether and sing “Alfama”. Again, Fado is used as dialogue. The song, originally written as an ode to the most recognizable and traditional quarter of Lisbon, expresses the friendship, maybe even the love that Theresa and Winter feel for each other.
After this scene, Fado occurs detached from Madredeus, mostly in the context of Winter working on Monroe’s film. Its main purpose is to provide a keynote to the scenes, but Fado is also used as soundmark for the city shown in the recordings. Winter’s own transformation is expressed through Fado. The assimilation of Portuguese culture is expressed through him drinking red wine while working and listening to Fado playing in the background, both symbols for Portugal (00:58:58).
Between 01:04:17 and 01:31:08, Fado does not appear at all, even though Winter is working in a sound studio to finish Monroe’s film. This might be due to a shift in the story focusing more on Winter finding Monroe. When the two friends finally meet, Monroe reveals his idea of filming to Winter and explains why he did not return to his place for such a long time. Monroe appears to be rather detached from both filmmaking and Lisbon. Fado occurs again only after the film shifts back to follow Winter’s sentiments and pers- pective. Winter’s way of experiencing the world regains the upper hand in the narration when he advises his old friend Monroe—who has lost all hope in filmmaking by this point—to “make images with your heart” again. In this moment, “Céu da Mouraria” starts playing in the background, emphasizing the emotional character of Fado (Madredeus 1995).
When Monroe finally accepts Winter’s perspective, the two start working together, simultaneously recording sound and film in the Alfama Quarter. “Alfama” is overlaying the scene as keynote, changing into the soundframe for the whole movie as the film ends. One might add that using Fado’s emotio- nal potential as an anchor point to produce a movie might also be true for Wenders’ own work. Considering the origin of Lisbon Story, Fado provides a crucial element to experiencing and imagining the city.
Media is an ideal place to produce imaginative geographies. From early travel writings to 3D film, it co-shapes our understanding of the world. Because of media, places are accessible to us, whether we have actually travelled there or not. “For there is no doubt that imaginative geography and history help the mind to intensify its own sense of itself by dramatizing the distance and difference between what is close to it and what is far away.” (Said 1977: 167) Visual, written, and aural history, understood as storytelling under specific circumstances, with existing knowledge and from a certain perspective, are always imaginative. It is interesting that there seems to be a difference in the ascribed grade of truth when is comes to different media. News broadcasts are considered to be truer than travel writings. I am not so sure that we should make a distinction between stories presumably being closer to ‘reality’ and those that are most obviously far from it (see Light 2008). This suggests the existence of the real place in contrast to the imagined one, and links media representations - especially those of the proclaimed fictitious kind - to the latter en passant.
As a young boy in Western Germany in the 1980s, I grew up with the adventure novels of Karl May telling me everything I wanted to know about America’s Wild West and the Orient. The fact that Karl May had never actu- ally travelled to the Orient didn’t minimize the impact his writings had on my imaginative geographies. I was “receiving [the Americas and the Orient] not as they are but as, for the benefit of the receiver, they ought to be”, as Said would put it (Said 1977: 180). I argue that the same can be said about my German-based perception of Lisbon. Where media promises us to encounter Vinho, sun, and Fado, we will naturally look for Vinho, sun, and Fado. We almost certainly will find Vinho, sun, and Fado. Environmental perception and on-site experience seem to be aided, even enhanced by, media imagination. Accordingly, I think of Fado when thinking about Lisbon, even though one can hardly hear it within the urban environmental soundscape. What the city fails to deliver, I draw from Wenders’ Lisbon Story. However, media impact not only appeals to the foreign traveller; it also affects the local population. When Lisbon’s residents name Fado second most often (after the ‘tram’) as being the most important sound event of their city, but only thirty-three Casas de Fado in two urban quarters have artists perform at night, Lisbon obviously is co-imagined by aspects other than environmental sources.
Bickenbach suggests that pictures from a movie are recalled by the viewer when listening to its soundtrack afterwards (Bickenbach, 2008). The conclusion that music receives new semantic meaning through its attachment to a movie can be extended by another observation: New semantic meaning is also being ascribed to the overall imagination of the city. Sense of place is co-shaped by the filmic experience. So, when “an outsider’s perspective is [supposed to be] a fantasy” (Kelley 2005: 358), the same has to be said for the locals’ perspectives, the latter allegedly being experts on a place like their home. Essentially, every experience of place carries an imaginative geography, as every experience is not only based upon external stimuli but an internal mindset to process all informa- tion. Their own point of view might concur with the viewpoint of the majority of readers/viewers, but this is, of course, no proof of any higher truthfulness or authenticity. Lisbon locals describe Fado as being one of the most important sounds in their city’s soundscape. If sound recordings indicate that Fado plays an only minor role within the environmental soundscape, does this mean that the imagined geographies of those locals are wrong? Or does it mean that the soundscape of a city cannot only be detected by sound recordings, but also through the emotional state of the recipients (adding the music to their place image)? I argue that the latter is the case. Werner describes the “experienced, perceived sound, that includes everything hearable, both real and imaginary” as ‘Metason’. (Werner 2006: 110 (translated by the author)) We should think of any urban soundscape as influenced by the listener’s media perception.
Wim Wenders’ Lisbon Story imagines a city that co-exists with Fado. As the dialogue in “O Tejo” says: Theresa: “How do you like it?” - Winter: “What? The river or your song?” - Theresa: “Both. They go together.” (00:43:33) The imaginative geographies of Lisbon include the chords, voices, and lyrics of Fado that are often only audible by an inner ear. While Fado on-site today is largely marginalized acoustically, its associations and meaning still remain. Media like Lisbon Story remind us of Fado’s cultural value, an existence pro- tected not only by UNESCO’s world heritage label but, ultimately, by its very imagination through media.
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