Found online # 1 – sound maps

I’m going to start up an occasional series. It’ll bring together web resources on a particular theme. Often it will be triggered by a new resource that I will have come across, and then added links to other such sites to fill out the picture. And I promise (to myself) to keep the accompanying text to a minimum.

To kick things off, here are some sound maps well worth exploring. Sound maps are where playable sound recordings are tagged to a map, usually at the point where they were recorded. Some sound maps are the work of hardy individuals, some are crowdsourcing productions. Most of them document cities, as places with a manageable geography and plenty of diverse sounds. Some take an anthropological angle, others are conceived of as art projects. There are hundreds of them out there; not a surprise when all you need is an iPhone, Google Maps, a good ear and a stout pair of shoes. This is a selection of some of those I find interesting:

  • The Soundscape of Istanbul – The sounds of Istanbul, mapped and colour-coded under themes such as Urban, Sports, Nature and Religion. In Turkish and English (the text that is, not the sounds)
  • London Sound Survey – the monarch of sound maps, an epic, multi-layered and profound documenting of the city in sound (sounds past and present), all the work of one tireless man, Ian Rawes
  • The Roaring Twenties – beautifully-designed soundscape recreating 1920s New York through live sounds taken from contemporary newsreels, linked to contemporary complaints about noise pollution
  • Cities and Memory – “a global field recording & sound art work that presents both the present reality of a place, but also its imagined, alternative counterpart” – random stuff, to which anyone can contribute
  • Sounds of our Shores – smart project from the British Library, audioBoom and the National Trust, mapping the sounds of Britain’s shoreline in 2015, all recorded by the public
  • Montréal Sound Map – smart and up-to-date site – explore the sounds of the city by location, tag, date or contributor, or just plunge in and click on any icon
  • Sounds Around You – worldwide soundscape project, based in Salford (of course). Genuinely global, locates sounds alongside their Google street view, and allows you to rate sounds (as well as uploading your own)
  • Inukjuak Sound Map – from kayak building to throat singing – the haunting sounds of Inukjuak, Hudson Bay, recorded by sound artist Nimalan Yoganathan
  • LIDO – aka Listening to the Deep Ocean Environment. Explore the sounds of the world’s oceans (navigating via a 3D globe)
  • Sons de Barcelona – lots of contributions to this sound map of Barcelona, though lack of categorisation means you apply a lucky dip approach to the sounds (unless you live there and know your way around)
  • Sound@media – a sound map of Seoul, which is written in Korean so I’ve no idea what is what, but it looks great and is all the more intriguing for being a landscape you have to explore by sound alone
  • UK Sound Map – another British Library project: sounds from across the UK contributed by members of the public via their phones over 2010/11
  • Soundcities – the granddaddy of soundmaps: an open source database of global sounds, both sounds found online and recordings made by the site’s author, Stanza, and others. Searchable by city or by mood (great fun browsing the world’s sirens, for example)

Go explore.


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