Get some chalk on your boots! The sounding cultures of football. A Sound Diaries conference

Hosted by SARU at Oxford Brookes University

Thursday 14th June 2018

“As a child I had a running commentary in my head when I was playing. It wasn’t really my own voice It was the voice of Pierre Cangion. Every time I heard his voice I would run towards the TV as close as I could get for as long as I could. It wasn’t that his words were so important but the tone, the accent the atmosphere was everything…
When you are immersed in the game, you don’t really hear the crowd. You can almost decide for yourself what you want to hear. You are never alone. I can hear someone shift around in their chair. I can hear someone coughing. I can hear someone whisper in the ear of the person next to them. I can imagine that I can hear the ticking of a watch.”
Zinedine Zidane. (from Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno)
“…the collective song and intoxicating sound of the crowd does not just provide an accompaniment to the beautiful action of the players, but is the sublime matrix out of which play emerges, the force field that energises the action… “

Simon Critchley (from What we think about when we think about football).


This conference will investigate football through an exploration of its sounding cultures. Football is a sonic spectacle; an auditory delight; a sport that thrives on the physical energy of sound. The sounds of football are part of our daily lives: the ephemeral grassroots soundings of parish council pitches; the buzz of late night radio commentary; the roar of the crowd seeping out into the night and spreading like a firm mist across nearby streets; the on-pitch communication of the players – stick it in the mixer!; corner flags whipped into sound-making action by the breeze; the crack as a ball strikes the crossbar; the thud of the football on boot then grass and soil as the goalkeeper sends it long down field; the incessant voice of the popular media; the rattle of the line-marker and the slosh of paint as the pitch is marked out; the clatter of football boots on concrete or the sounds as they are struck together to remove mud; the resonant corridors of the stadium; football talk at the pub – on the bus – in the cafe; the slam of plastic seats as the crowd stand – craning to see a corner; the conflict between the corporate stadium sound system and the oral culture of the ultras; the cries of joy and despair; the referee’s whistle; and the quiet calm – the void – of the stadium after the game, when the crowd has gone.
We are inviting papers; presentations of existing projects; performance lectures; and informal and experimental ramblings for our conference. Topics could include – but are not limited to:

  • The politics of sound control in stadiums – the conflicting sounding behaviour of fans, local and global capital, and the corporate ideology of football clubs.
  • Sound, memory and football.
  • The legislation of sound controls within and around football stadiums.
  • The effect of soundscape on training facilities.
  • The sonic idiosyncrasies of particular football stadiums including their role as resonators.
  • On-pitch communication between players.
  • The matchday soundscape from turnstiles and programme sellers to the idling engine of the team bus.
  • Football as hyper-real sound spectacle – the pumped-up sounds of football in the broadcast
  • The sounds of the material culture of grassroots football from painting white lines to the
    sound of the pavilion shutters and grass-mowers.
  • The changing soundscapes experienced by the fan-bases of clubs as they undergo relocation to a new stadium.
  • Chants and terrace culture.
  • Intersections between fan culture and popular music.
  • The phenomenology of sound and football.

Please send a 200 word abstract plus any relevant links to: by April 6th 2018.

What is Sound Diaries?

Sound Diaries explores what it means to record life in sound. Exploring the cultural and communal significance of sounds, Sound Diaries forms a research basis for projects executed both locally and Internationally, in Brussels, Tallinn, rural Estonia and Cumbria; within local institutions in Oxford; and within cultural organisations like Sound and Music, BBC Radio and Boring 2011. Sound Diaries was established by Felicity Ford and Paul Whitty in 2008.

What is SARU?

The Sonic Art Research Unit (SARU) provides a forum for dialogue between the fields of experimental composition and sonic art. Areas of focus include electroacoustic and language based composition; interdisciplinary and site-specific practices; the philosophy of sound; field recording and sound studies. We curate the annual sound festival, audiograft, programme various symposia, organise concerts and lectures, promote exhibitions, publish books and CDs, and support the development of online projects and imprints such as Sound Diaries, Compost and Height, and Consumer Waste.

Sound Diaries and SARU are part of the School of Arts at Oxford Brookes University.

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