Hum Club

Hum Club is concerned with humming as a preverbal musical form of communication and as the background noise of urban life.

Humming can be approached as a low barrier-to-entry mode of (collective) music-making. It can be (non)-performed absent-mindedly, while doing other things, or as a focused resonant practice — think of the yogic ‘Om’.

Hum Club also has an interest in humming as the background noise to urban life; the hum of motors, refrigerators, electricity hubs, and other sounds that we are mostly inattentive to, that we have learned to filter out. We might ask how does a hum differ from a buzz?

Hum Club seeks to explore what happens when we bring these and other notions of humming together. We could make a humming dérive or drift through an urban centre. What kind of psychogeographies might we uncover? It’s not hard to imagine how humming could serve as a means of communication, marking one’s movement within proximity to others. So might humming be a navigation tool, as a means of echolocation? What happens when the humming stops? Does background noise take over or are we left with the ringing in our ears? Where might we find ourselves when humming guides our negotiations of urban space?

Hum Club will also convene online on ‘jamming’ platforms, such as Jam, Jamulus and SonoBus, to explore low level forms of connectivity. During this time of pandemic, what is it to be in the presence of others without a specific purpose or focus; while doing others things? How might we be together differently, digitally?

What is the history of humming? When did people first hum? One proposal is that humming and other kinds of preverbal vocalisations are vestigial forms of communication inherited from our pre-human ancestors. What might be the evolutionary reason for its persistence? Simply put: why hum? There is some discussion about the role of biosonics in wellbeing and healing, so might humming relieve anxiety? Could humming enhance the regeneration of cells and soft tissue?

Hum Club takes its cues from the poet and author Christina Hume who founded ‘Center for the Hum’. In an email interview published on Poetry Foundation (2014) she writes:

In the wake of visual aggression, metamorphosis is biological, and so must be recuperation. Our focus on the body routes us through tactile, kinesthetic, and proprioceptive senses. At the Center, we send high frequency vibrations—in the form of a hum too high to hear—to pressurize the tissues of civilian wounds, but the vibrations, more crucially, locate the wound’s own voice in a kind of echolocation. This echo-pulse lets us take back a sonic subjectivity, an identity informed from surround sound instead of frontal optics.

An excerpt from Hume’s recent book Saturation Project (2021) that concerns ‘hum’ can be found at Full Stop.