The sound of the city

A guided tour of blindfolded bewilderment is the word on the street as people turn on, tune in and drop out to the noise and smells of the Berlin city soundscape.

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Photo by Annett Melzer

Amid the usual after-work buzz on a recent evening in Friedrichstraße, an unusual procession is taking place: people move slowly across the pavement wearing sleep masks and blue windbreakers that read “”. Passers-by frown, giggle and wonder: what is this strange parade?

They call themselves a “network”, and their mission is the promotion of contemporary music. When they’re not organising concerts, festivals, radio programmes, installations or workshops, they blindfold people in the street and take them for walks through the city “in the tradition of what is called musique concrète”, explains organiser Thomas Bruns, referring to an experimental form of electro-acoustic music that incorporates found sounds.

This month, the group is teaming up with the musicians of Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin, who will accompany the procession, playing their own interpretation of “Memory Space” by experimental American composer Alvin Lucier.

The experience itself is intense: temporarily and voluntarily deprived of your vision and arm-in-arm with a quiet stranger, you walk as the city metamorphoses into a sensuous web of innumerable noises and smells.

Would you recognize Berlin by its sounds? Have you ever really listened?

“I never realized how loud everything is – are we really surrounded by all this every day?” one woman wonders.

Each carefully planned tour lasts about an hour and is followed by a brief discussion among the participants and musicians. 

Gehörte Stadt, Oct 5, 12 & 19, 19:00, €5 per person. More info at or call/email to reserve a spot: Tel 030 2474 9870, [email protected]