Tag Archives: commuter

Collecting for 2013 – Geoff Marshall on making the ‘What Song are you Listening to?’ film

Film maker Geoff Marshall is behind the camera on our ‘What Song are you Listening to?’ film. Geoff has shared his thoughts on making the film, and how it’s made him think differently about his behavior as a commuter.

You are on the Tube. You must sit there looking miserable … something to be endured. That’s what you’re used to right? Or is it …

You see it every day – people sitting in a carriage most likely on their daily commute and ignoring the rest of the world. Plugged in headphones maybe with heads buried in newspapers or books too – as people shut out the rest of the world and create their own small space. A space sometimes where you’re squashed in so tightly and so close to people you don’t know it would be awkward in any other situation – that’s what everyone expects and gets on with.

Yet a few hours spent one afternoon at Tooting Broadway made me see that there is life, laughter, smiles and energy behind everyone, it’s just that we are somehow trained to contain it all to ourselves.

Our mission? To find out what people were listening to on the Tube. Our targets? Everyone we saw over a four hour period with headphones as they came in and out of Tooting Broadway station. Armed with some vibrant young volunteers, holding up a large posters emblazoned with “WHAT SONG ARE YOU LISTENING TO?”, we managed to cajole many people out of their personal musical shells, and share with us their tastes.

I’m quite passionate about my own music, what I listen to and how I enjoy it, and afterwards as I put the video together it occurred to me how insular I had become. Had I not done this, and had to piece together this production with snippets of the songs that others were listening to, I may have never discovered some of these songs in my entire life.

My own stereotypical views were challenged to. It’s so hard not to judge a person quite quickly after first seeing them, and I realised that based on their age, gender, race, way that they dressed, or the way that they walked I had a pre-conception about what genre of music they might be listening to before we asked them – sometimes I was right, the majority of the time though I was wrong, and I realised it was pleasing to be wrong, and have my own attitude adjusted.

But most of all I liked the moments when we broke people out of their personal worlds and (sometimes after a little cajoling) got them to share with us an insight into their music. Almost everyone had a little embarrassment, soon followed by a wave of enjoyment, happiness and a huge smile. I loved the moment when they all smiled.

A while ago sat on a train, I saw several people sat around me plugged in listening to things. I thought then how great it would be at that moment to have a gadget that allowed you to ‘tune in’ and eavesdrops on what people were listening to! You could discover a great new piece of music yourself that you were just sat a few feet away from and might have otherwise never have known about it.  When I see people on the Tube now enjoying it, I now really want to ask them what they’re listening to.

So maybe challenge yourself next time you see someone plugged away listening to something. If they look like they’re enjoying it, be bold and ask them what you’re listening to! People may be a little embarrassed, but as we found, ultimately thrilled to be able to share the enjoyment of their music with others.

Until then, you’ve got this video to go on to assess the broad range of what song people are listening to…

By Geoff Marshall – film maker

Collecting for 2013 – ‘What Song are you Listening to?’ Video on YouTube

Earlier this year, a group of us from London Transport Museum hit the Underground to find out what songs passengers were listening to. The brilliant edited video is now available on the Museum’s YouTube channel – enjoy!

What songs were you listening to today when you travelled by Tube? How does your music affect your journey?

Collecting for 2013 – What Songs are Commuters Listening to?

The music that people listen to when they travel by Underground affects their experience of the journey. As part of the Museum’s contemporary collecting project for the 150th anniversary of the Underground in 2013, a group of Museum staff and volunteers spent an afternoon at Tooting Broadway station, stopping any passengers with headphones and asking them what song they were listening to. People of all ages gave us examples of music from a range of music genres, allowing us to get a real insight into the music that people listen to when traveling on the Tube. Responses from over 100 people were captured on film, and will be edited together for the Museum’s collection.

Big thanks to our young consultants Adelah and Godwin for their hard work on the day (and for Adelah’s excellent dance moves with some of the commuters!) and to Jen and Wei, two interns who also helped out and did an amazing job. The finished film will be on the Museum’s YouTube channel soon.