Welcome to Marathon Music!
Marathon Music is the name I use for a research project that explores the soundscapes of running. The title is intended as a convenient metaphor for a study that in fact extends beyond music at marathons to address broad questions related to hearing, listening, movement, and well-being. It engages with the disciplines of ethnomusicology and sound studies, and it seeks to offer a distinctively humanist contribution to health science.
I first grew interested in this topic when I ran the Lisbon Half Marathon in 2011 and found that the various bands stationed along the way helped propel me onward. How exactly does music complement a race? I wondered. Are some kinds of music more suited to the task than others? What do the musicians get out of it?
As my running practice intensified over the years, other aspects concerning music, miles, and sound came to my attention. In contrast to live music along a race course, personal soundtracks for running have been facilitated by the increasing portability of audio—from the Walkman cassette player decades ago, to the smart phone streaming MP3s into wireless sweat-resistant headphones today. The running playlist became a phenomenon, and now there are smartphone apps that can match the pulse of musical tracks to a runner’s cadence. At the same time, some runners don't listen to music at all, preferring, for example audiobooks, the sounds of their surroundings, or conversations with training partners.
In this space I will share aspects of this developing research project into music, miles, and sound.
The video in my page header is of the The Cobalt Rhythm Kings, a blues band from New Haven, Connecticut who performed at the NYRR Washington Heights Salsa, Blues, and Shamrocks 5K race, March 4, 2018, NYC (at around the midpoint, in Fort Tyron Park). The band has performed at this race for several years. (I like the "Quiet Zone" sign in front of the band...)
The photo in this welcome post shows a violinist who performed at the 2018 #UnitedNYCHalf Experience (where the 22,000 runners of the NYC Half Marathon on March 18 picked up their race bibs).
Please also enjoy the #wil2wir (What I Listen to When I Run) portrait gallery below. Hover your cursor over the images, or open them in a separate window, to read brief quotations. I use this hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, and Vimeo/YouTube from time to time to post songs and sounds from my own running experience. It gestures toward Haruki Murakami's book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, published in the US in 2008 (the title of which is itself a reference to R. Carver's collection of stories, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, from 1981.)
*The look and organisation of this page may gradually change as the project evolves*