YouTube, sound, and music in the construction of listening spaces to fall asleep


  • João Francisco Porfírio The NOVA University of Lisbon



Sleeping is a basic need, but all persons have their own unique way of doing it. Some people need total silence, whereas others need the presence of specifi c sounds to fall asleep and enjoy a restful night. On YouTube, users share playlists and original compositions to promote sleepiness and relaxation and help people to get a good night’s sleep. Some of this content is also intended to help people study, work, or read, as indicated by the titles, descriptions, and tags that accompany the compositions. In this article, I examine YouTube as a source of sound, music, and other audiovisual content that aims to help people fall asleep. I also analyze the role of this type of content in the construction of listening spaces suitable for the activity of sleeping and look at why the same kind of compositions and genres of music are likewise recommended for other activities such as reading, working, or studying. The main argument is that this kind of content is the result of shared and distributed subjectivities constructed from the relationship between users, content, and producers. The alleged effectiveness of this kind of content comes from these subjectivities and from the audio characteristics that enable these videos to mask other sounds. For this reason, they can be considered to be orphic media with the capacity to build listening spaces that can function as sound asylums.

Author Biography

João Francisco Porfírio, The NOVA University of Lisbon

PhD student in musicology

Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities

The NOVA University of Lisbon


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How to Cite

Porfírio, J. F. (2021). Sleep/relax/work/study/read: YouTube, sound, and music in the construction of listening spaces to fall asleep. SoundEffects - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Sound and Sound Experience, 10(1), 27–41.