Ochlophonia Hong Kong SAR: audition, speech and feedback from within the crowded soundscape.

Drever, John L.. 2014. 'Ochlophonia Hong Kong SAR: audition, speech and feedback from within the crowded soundscape.'. In: Sound, Noise and the Everyday: Soundscapes in China. Aarhus University, Denmark. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

This paper sounds out Hong Kong SAR resident’s everyday audiophonic practices from within the crowded soundscape they reside. Since 1998 the presence and use of personal mobile audio technologies has gown exponentially: mobile phones (referred to locally as “mobile”), AM/FM radios, MP3 players interfaced via earbuds and since 2007 the smartphone. Within the densely populated ‘mega-urban’ environments of Hong Kong these devices afford a level of aural and oral autonomy, allowing people moving through the city to preserve private auditory territory and sustain alternative telepresences despite, for example, being sandwiched into a packed train carriage.
This paper seeks to explore the tacit everyday sociocultural and psychospatial (i.e. proxemics (Hall 1966, Coyne 2010)) manner in which Hong Kongese use auditory technologies to mediate, enable and inhibit interaction between individuals and environments, both present and telepresent, including a split binaural hybrid mode of listening characterised by Ronell (1991) as periscopic listening. This mode of periscopic or split listening requires the skills involved in what is known as the ‘cocktail party effect’ (Cherry 1953) - the ability to focus one’s auditory attention on (or to have ones attention attracted by) a single sound source among a mixture of background noises. The capacity to select certain streams of auditory information and suppress others is hence essential for effective private acoustic communication and safe navigation through urban public spaces in Hong Kong. A specific concern throughout, however, has been to situate these auditory proclivities within the intense and crowded soundscape (i.e. aspects of the environment that are sounding and audible) which Hong Kong manifests and how it maps onto traditional cultural practices of the Hong Kong Chinese people.
This paper represents part of an ongoing fieldwork based research enquiry into ochlology, with an ear to the ground vis-à-vis auditory culture of crowds, crowded spaces and the feeling of being crowded – which the author calls ‘ochlophonia’.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


Chinese Studies, Soundscape Studies, Ochlophonia

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Unit for Sound Practice Research


21 August 2014["eprint_fieldopt_dates_date_type_shown" not defined]

Event Location:

Aarhus University, Denmark

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

15 Jul 2015 12:42

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2017 09:33



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