Sound Salad: The Soundscapes of a Brazilian Favela

Andrea Medrado

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The predominance of the visual can prevent us from comprehending the world through the experience of other senses. This chapter is based on the premise that it is possible to gain a deepened understanding of a culture by attending to the ways in people relate to each other and to their environment through sounds and the sense of hearing (Erlmann, 2004). Therefore, this chapter aims at analysing what the soundscapes of Pau da Lima, one favela or “popular neighbourhood” located in Salvador, Brazil, say about its social complexity. Some areas of Pau da Lima are characterised by the existence of many loudspeakers, which create a competitive and overwhelming sonic environment. This results from a market-centred culture in which auditory appeals predominate. It also illustrates some of residents’ daily dynamics of interaction, as well as some of the internal struggles and tensions. In addition, the space-expanding nature of sound and the permeable walls of the densely populated favela imply that residents are always confronted with each other’s music and sounds. This demonstrates that, in the favela context, the boundaries between public and private are more blurred. However, rather than being passively immersed in a cacophonous sonic environment, the residents of Pau da Lima become “aural architects”. In fact, they constantly and actively use music and sounds to seize space, mark territories and build “walls of sound” (Deleuze and Guattari, 2004). It is also through the use of sounds and the establishment of multiple simultaneous “sonic arenas” (Blesser and Salter, 2007) that people demonstrate the different social categories they identify themselves with.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationUrban Developments in Brazil and Portugal
EditorsMarcio Moraes Valenca
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNova science
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)ISBN: 978-1-61470-892-6
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2012


  • favela, soundscapes, listening

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