a project by Francesco Giannico
in collaboration with Roberta Trani

with the help of Palazzo Ulmo, Salotto Elettronico, Mercato Nuovo, Rumore Bianco Studio, Vicoli Corti


Ìchos |  sounds on the sidelines is a project entirely hinged on the concept of sound and the marginality of sound that took place on May 26,27 and 28, 2023 in Taranto, southern Italy. In the press release I called it “a non-project” in a somewhat provocative way because often in the past it has seemed almost necessary to have to design something to sustain its existence. If the purpose of a project is the project itself we are faced with a cosmic vacuum in terms of content.
We do not live in order to be able to tell the lives of others but we should tell the lives of others with the purpose of being able to have a relationship with these people. What matters, therefore, is interaction.

For all these reasons Ìchos navigates without scientific placement between workshop, art residency and alternative vacation.

Ultimately, we are talking , as is customary on this site, about soundscape, but in a somewhat broader sense, also including the effects of anthropic elements within the environmental context analysed. Effects not only directly attributable to the environment (urban, rural) but also to the very condition of the inhabitants of the areas analysed, in a perpetual cycle of human conditioning on the environment.


The working group consisted of myself and the photographer Roberta Trani, as well as the project participants: Vincenzo Fortunato, Luigi Massari, Serena Bertola, Vito Campobasso, Riccardo Sacco, Stefano Bonifazi,  Francesco Napoleoni, Vittorio Gervasi.

The work carried out

The realisation that time is running out in these situations, halfway between artistic residency, workshop and ‘alternative weekend’, prompted me to go out almost immediately with the group onto the street, opening the door of our logistical base, the legendary Palazzo Ulmo in the old town. To non-Taranto residents, it should be specified that the old town is not the usual historic centre, firstly because it is not in the centre of the city but in a decidedly out-of-the-way location, and secondly because it has not undergone the same evolution as the historic centres but a very different fate.

Let’s say right away that the work was supposed to cover three areas that had been identified as marginal areas, not with respect to sound obviously, but that thanks to sound could tell their marginality. I used the conditional because, for reasons of time, the third area ‘the Salinella district’ was unfortunately not included in the project (but we have promised to deal with this in the future). The areas therefore studied were essentially the old town and circummarpiccolo.

The choice fell on these areas because of their residual character compared to the commonly induced stereotype of what the city should be, what characteristics it should have. Starting from the marginal parts could evidently return much more in terms of the narrative of all places, increasingly prey to phenomena of gentrification or impoverishment of territorial resources to the detriment of decisive elements such as biodiversity and quality of life in general.

We used various equipment, as in addition to my zoom and directional and contact microphones, the guys in the group were also well equipped. Compared to other similar occasions, it was therefore certainly much easier to manage the recording operations, having almost one device each.


We are talking about a coastal lagoon that stretches for just over 20 square kilometres and which we were able to visit for a small stretch, first in the countryside behind and then near the entrance to the so-called WWF Nature Oasis ‘Palude La Vela’ .

The naturalistic sounds in this second location seemed somewhat sacrificed in the first half of the stretch, due to the proximity of the road and thus the passage of cars. As you get further in, the situation improves, but the feeling is that the acoustic richness is probably related to the transit of the different animal species (flamingos, herons above all) and that they were not present at the time we were there. However, the wide dynamic range of the place was audible through headphones, there was no wind but a slight hissing sound that occasionally caressed the ears, perhaps carried by the sea that could be seen in the distance.

By contrast, the experience in the countryside behind gave a visual impact that was perhaps slightly less poignant but more certainly generous in terms of sound variety. We travelled along the stretch of a long dead end track that connected the Taranto arsenal to Buffoluto more than 50 years ago, an area designated as a military settlement for the storage, management and logistics of naval munitions.

In this part of the journey, the rustic sounds of an early summer (dictated by an unexpected heat given the previous rainy days) prevailed, offering a bit of everything one would expect from the catalogue: insects and buzzing for all palates, abandoned dwellings and their resonances, more muffled sounds captured in the dense vegetation down the slopes of a blade.
An undoubtedly high-fidelity dynamic picture that gave us the opportunity to distinctly hear all the recorded elements.

Old Town

Sounds that mutate over time 
In 2010, I had already carried out an initial soundscaping activity in the old city itself entitled Taranto Sonora with a numerically similar group of about ten people.

If we start from the assumption that the soundscape is constantly changing, I can certainly point out, as far as the acoustic environment of the old city is concerned, a lesser presence of sounds related to mopeds, or rather, their transformation (of a part, not all) into electric mopeds or the like, as well as the appearance of a few electric scooters. This observation, seemingly trivial, actually changes the perception of the place considerably, since 11 years earlier the prevailing sound of mopeds driven by kids (not only them actually), through the alleys, seemed to me to be a constant tonic.

The presence of the children is palpable, even when one cannot see them, one can easily perceive their presence through the voices in the distance, often in the form of an echo that reaches one’s ears carried by the wind moving through the alleys and echoing in the walls of the houses. Just as frequently, balloons materialise in the recordings, moped braking (mentioned above), as well as distinctly perceiving the so-called diphthongation well used in the Taranto dialect to attract the attention of a peer (au). Funny yes, but not only! Personally, I find it an unmistakable anthropic marker, dare I say a real sound marker of the territory.

Relevant things

The isolated island

The Old Town has been pushed to the margins over the years from a social point of view, isolated one might say, when it was already endowed with its own intrinsic isolation, the actual conformation with which it was born already being that of a small island connected to the (new) town by the swing bridge on one side and the stone bridge on the other.

The acoustic isolation on the other hand sometimes results, in the recordings made near the central areas above all, in an interesting phenomenon of (almost) cancellation of the sea and harbour areas (despite being only a few metres away), and the various ruins scattered here and there sometimes act as a sounding board for urban voices. Metaphorically, it might be useful to imagine this phenomenon as an urban diaphragm, as if the old city wants to show itself alive and breathing.

I experienced a similar phenomenon in Trieste city some years ago, where I could see how the sound of traffic along the seafront completely shielded the city from the possibility of hearing sounds of the port, the sea, and seagulls.

Proximity, in essence, is not a sufficient factor to guarantee high-fidelity listening to a sound source, even if it is clearly present.

Variables such as architectural barriers or invisible barriers must be taken into account. Roads are not barriers in the eyes of many but to the ears they are in fact, through the constant flow of cars they acoustically separate 2 adjacent areas.

Porto - cigolio del fondale delle barche
Porto - cigolio del fondale delle barche
Bambini che urlano in città vecchia
Bambini che urlano in città vecchia


audiovisual synthesis

In the audiovisual montage below, I have attempted to bring together all the work done in those days at the end of May 2023. From the video footage of my friend, photographer Roberta Trani, to the field recordings captured by the working group, which I thank.

This work is a kind of synthesis of about 9 minutes with respect to the live electroacoustic performance of no less than 40 minutes on the evening of 28 May, in the hypogeum of Palazzo Ulmo and with a sold-out audience of about 70 people (!) – which for an electroacoustic performance is truly something miraculous and which I will remember fondly!

The piece is constructed using several layers, represented by the environmental recordings, and in some cases having a mere descriptive function. Often these ambient sound layers are not in sync with the overlaying video clip, but rather are part of the same thematic cluster. In several cases there are musical inserts that I have realised by means of guitars, synths, piano and the reworking of the same layers by means of granular synthesis. The attempt was to render a representation that was in balance between the bare and raw listening part and that more dictated by the suggestion induced also by the visual part.


by Roberta Trani

click to enlarge


by Francesco Giannico

click to enlarge


by Francesco Giannico
this below it’s the same track from the video up there.

Francesco Giannico
Francesco Giannico ìchos

by Kilroy aka Stefano Bonifazi

Kilroy aka Stefano Bonifazi
Isolamadre - Circummarpiccolo
Kilroy aka Stefano Bonifazi Isolamadre - Circummarpiccolo

by Kilroy aka Stefano Bonifazi

Kilroy aka Stefano Bonifazi
Isolamadre - Città Vecchia
Kilroy aka Stefano Bonifazi Isolamadre - Città Vecchia


On the eve of the íchos project I had spoken of a small miracle (no mystical moment, don’t worry), that of having managed to find passionate people with whom we had built a common goal, namely the success of the project and the final event in a completely self-financed context where the obstinacy of wanting to do produces results.

Well, without wishing to be patronisingly obvious, I can only reiterate this concept by pointing out once again one thing, perhaps equally obvious, namely that it was obviously not easy.
There are so many aspects to consider and even if you are trained to have an overview, you will still miss something. You will struggle, you will argue, you will sweat, but in the end you will have produced something you can be proud of.

And looking back at what has been achieved, I can only be proud of everyone and thank those who supported the project, without them it would not have been possible to realise it in these terms.

Roberta Trani
Teresa Leggieri
Mimmo Gemmano
Alex Palmieri
Loris Ligonzo
Vincenzo Madaro

and then Palazzo Ulmo, Mercato Nuovo and Salotto Elettronico, Vicoli Corti for their hospitality and availability

The last thanks, not in order of importance, are for the project participants who put up with me for 3 days

Vincenzo Fortunato
Luigi Massari
Serena Bertola
Vito Campobasso
Riccardo Sacco
Stefano Bonifazi
Francesco Napoleoni
Vittorio Gervasi