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Deconstructed, August 2019

Construction sounds fill D.C. Sometimes the instruments come together in a symphony of development, but this morning, in a residential neighborhood, everyone’s playing a solo.

You can barely hear it from indoors—the pianissimo grumble of a drill separating bricks from the mortar that binds them. To step outside is a crescendo.

A block away, a dump truck with a bright red bed idles next to a torn up sidewalk. A woman walking her dog steps into the street to avoid the mess, its bass drum-like thrum giving her a walking beat, should she choose to listen. A few steps south, the truck fades and gives way to the unmistakable drone of an electric saw. It fills the air though it’s nowhere to be seen, drowning out the birds and bugs and windchimes that normally serenade this alley.

Another block over, the staccato of a pneumatic tool punctures the morning. Its breathy blasts come from deep within a rowhouse, its operator out of view. A port-a-potty plays an improvised solo as it bounces around in a trailer. 

The morning’s vocals come from behind a Pepco truck. The crew—sheltered from view—chatters loudly and unintelligibly. 

Often hidden within buildings and machinery, behind barriers and fences, invisible musicians provide an unwitting soundtrack to the city.

Will Warren writes Scene and Heard. If you know of a location worthy of being seen or heard, email him at wwarren@washingtoncitypaper.com.