The City Rings

Month: January, 2013

Postcards from Paris

Hello All,
Today we finished our postcards and I think everyone is generally pretty happy with the result.
We started off our session by listening to the postcards from Ghent, and thinking about the description of it being ‘calm and quiet’. This was not our general impression, quite the opposite, so we deduced that you had made microscopic recordings, or ‘close-ups’ of many different objects from you daily environment and assembled them in a ‘non naturalsitic’, or unliteral way. Some postcards ended in crescendos, some became quieter. This provoked a conversation on the many ways of composing with the recordings, should the recordings always reflect reality, and be a sort of storyboard of events ? There are so many different possibilities, or stories to tell with the same sounds, even with a given theme or keyword.
We decided to make a few more recordings in the kitchen, using the old fashioned telephone, the speaking weighing machine, and the squeaking window, whilst reflecting on the matter. It reminded me of this film :

This was good to watch, everyone laughed, and it was a counter example, another approach to composing with everyday sounds.

With all these thoughts the time flew by … here are our postcards. I hope you manage to hear them, and thank you so much to everyone for sharing. Bonne écoute !


Compact Sonic Postcards from Essen!

The very last session on the project is over and we will definitely miss these meetings in the next weeks. It was so much fun.

We fougth with audacity (sometime things got lost or simply our hands slipped away, and suddeny everything was gone)

but we won!

We decided to make them short but effectiv. That was too because we had so many short recordings.

So here, dear folks from Palau Solità i Plegamans, are now our little sonic postcards for you.


To imagine what could be in the postcards and how it could be sounding like we draw even some postcards at home.

We found that easier (because we could talk about colours and form of sounds) than describing what one could send on a postcard, then we transformated these thoughts with the sounds we recorded at home to these results. We hope, you have fun listening.

And yes, we found the effect section in audacity! Hear what we have done!

After finishing our compositions we found it very easy to talk about pictures we got in our heads when we listened to the postcards of Can Cladellas (you will find the comments in the comments ;-) )
Because we now experienced that a sound when listened repeatedly, it get’s more and more abstract and we don’t perceive it any more as the source of the recording but as a part of a sound picture.

We loved the whole project so much, that we could edit the sounds ourselves, that we could take the recorders at home, that we were working in groups, …


SonicPostcards from Rennes

Hi all,


Tuesday, January 22 :
Here we come to the end of the session of the city rings !

Before returning to realizing our audio editing, we’re reading the post of berliner students. After listening to each sound, we try to guess how and with what they were made. Sometimes there were many ideas for one sound! Eg, the sound “water pump” was the sound of a tap for some pupils, was the noise of a toy kitchen for other.
We have listening some other sounds on “freesound”, now we can use the website easily !


Unfortunately, when we wanted to take our editing audio… files were no longer on computers ! Because of this bug, we repeated all our poscards! We were really disappointed!



To you now discover our daily sonic environment … somewhat reinterpreted!
We tried to reproduce a day of bad weather with thunder. For example, the wind noise was made ​​from a dictionary, turning the pages very quickly.


We were inspired by the sound of a bell. It made ​​us think firemen, so we completed the editing audio on this topic.


When you hear this sound, we hope to give you the impression that you are in a factory. Noises are mechanical and repetitive, like an assembly line.


We imagined being in a playground. But the atmosphere of the school yard will be a little crazy. Sounds in the school grounds were recorded during a battle of snowballs.


We chose to create a soundscape around the theme of war too! In fact, we talked about war in Mali this morning in class, and we were several groups to be inspired by this theme to create our soundscapes.
On this sonicposcard, we can listen aircraft noise hunting, crackling, or attack helicopters…


The sonicsnaps (sounds centrifuge, oven …) inspired us to create a soundscape around the war. The sounds are violent and we can imagine that we are attacked by enemies!
Can you guess what country we could be?


According to you, where are we?
We are on a ship at sea, and we come near a deserted island, but we still do not know what we’ll find!


All of sounds together give some repetitive bull sounds. So we decided to give to these composition «waste deposal» as key word. Sounds seem to show objects which are about to be crushed by a big machine.


We wanted to create a ambience like a halloween night in which sounds remain chain saw for exemple. We hear somebody running out until a ghost train to keep this person to go somewhere safe but he is in a haunted house and at the end, a big noise of a chain saw stops this track.


Sounds of our track remain us ski. We listen to lashing sounds like when we turn quickly in a big descent in order to slow down. We also hear some people who cry are speak with a lot of wind like at the mountain where everybody ski.



Composing postcards in Ghent

Hi, there!


We split the class  in two and half of us worked on the postcards on monday and the other half on tuesday. First we got reintroduced to Vegas, the audio software we also used to create our Soundscapes. We learned about cutting and looping, fading in and out, how to lower the volume of a sound, etc… Oh, and we learned about saving our work. Ctrl+S is all you need!


Then we talked about how we felt about our own city, how we wanted to create a composition that was reflecting that feeling properly. We thought and talked about how to tell a story with sound, how to use tension and release, how to use different colors of sound, about the importance of contrasts and the importance of silence.


We all took the recorders home over the weekend so we had enough time to collect our favorite city sounds. Now it was finally the time to create! Some of us made extremely busy postcards, others tried to create something calm, as they felt Ghent was a calm, relaxed city compared to other big cities. We all had a blast! We could talk a lot more about the experience as it was different for everyone of us, but the best thing is just to listen! Check out our postcards! We hope they arrive soon in Paris!




The Postcards (Can Cladellas, Barcelona)

Today we finished the Postcard. We had started yesterday, as we dedicate two sessions to this exercise. The first session we asked the participants to listen to their sounds, do a selection, rename them and clean them of any talking or other unwanted sound. The second session has been more focused on the composition of the postcard itself.



They started the composition based on one or two keywords that define how they experience their daily environments. This is one of The City Rings suggested methodology, and we adopted it. Once they have those words, they are to represent them, using the sounds (sonic snaps ) recorded at home and school the previous days. And so, the final composition (the postcard) is a sonic representation of their subjective daily experience.



For their compositions, the participants used, along their intuition, some of the tools and strategies we suggested during the Soundscapes session: multilayering, the envelope tool, track gain, intensity curves, repetition, silence, etc.


Technically, they did not have any problem handling Audacity, except for some of its limitations, as the difficulty to split a sound in two or more separated fragments, and keep then on the same track. Also the limited screen size  of the tiny laptops, makes it difficult to see quickly all the tracks in use , instead of having to scroll up and down for it.


In any case the dedication of the class to their compositions surprised us! they even missed voluntarily some time of their morning pause in order to be able to finish it the way they wanted. We really appreciated that!



Please , listen below to some of their compositions, and do not forget to visit our pack at Freesound for the rest of them 

Thanks for reading!






Snap! Sounds from Palau Solità i Plegamans (Barcelona)

Look at them, with their recorders and headphones, running around, asking people to perform actions so they can record them. They are like us, but smaller! ;P



So we dedicated a full session for participants to learn how the recorders work and practice their new acquired knowledge around the school. This was a preparation for the task of taking the recorders home, and go on recording sounds from their daily life.



And they have collected quite some interesting sounds indeed. Below you can hear a few of them, and don’t forget to visit our Freesound SonicSnaps pack for the rest of them:


Oh! we did not remove , from the sounds, the voices of the participants when they announce what they are going to record. Of course we will not use those voices during the Sonic Postcard composition, but we found it could be interesting for you to hear some tiny Spanish and Catalan voices at work.






Sonic Snaps from Rennes in the snow !



Friday, we first listened to the Berliner soundscapes, and we are delighted to hear that German are made from our mysounds ! We tried to recognize all the sounds that we recorded.
Then we went into introducing the recorders once again, and we separated the classe in 7 groups to record sounds in the school (classroom, corridors, playground…). The playground was snow, we were able to record the sound of footsteps in the snow and snowball fights! We took benefit before it disappears. Today, we have no snow in Rennes unlike Paris! What luck !




We had instructions to record the sounds:
– Record environnemental sounds
– Record a moving object with the recorder in a fixed position
– Record a stationary object with the recorder motion
– Record a close sound (“zoom in” on a sound)
– Record a far away sound, distant





Here is a selection of audio recordings made at school by each group:


When we finihed the session, we got the recorders at home. We gave the recorders to the leaders of each group because we have only 13 recorder and we are 30 students in this class !


Here is a selection of audio recordings made at home by each group:

You can hear the others sonicsnaps recorded by each group on Freesound !

Today, we listened to some recordings at home, we recognized the sounds of a centrifuge, a plastic ball, a hammer … and even the subway!

We were separated into groups and we started our audio editing on Audacity, from the sounds made ​​at home and in school. Friday, you can listen to our audio postcards, we look forward to hearing yours !

See you soon !


An earful of IDES ( Paris)

We had a great afternoon on Friday. The class separated into two groups, one  remained mostly outdoors, whilst the others went inside. We went over how to use the recorder again before reflectiong on what sounds are particular to everyday life at IDES, and perhaps hard to recognise if you don’t know them, such as the ‘sonic footballs’ or the Perkins Brailler. You can hear the recordings below. At the end we all met inside for a nice cup of tea and recorded the kettle boiling. Some recordings didn’t work so we revised how to used the recorder again, that is part of the experience. Tomorrow, if all goes well and school is not cancelled because of the snow, we shall meet again, listen to the recordings made at home over the weekend, and finish our postcards. Phew…


Sonic Snaps from Essen


what a day, first we listened to the soundscapes from can cadellas. We tried to recognize all the sounds that we recorded. How colourful they were put together. really a good job! Then we went into introducing the recorders once again. It took us a while, because we had very different once. Since we hadn’t very much time on the first obejct recordings, we now took the time and discovered other ways to make sound.
Then we went out and hunted for more sounds.

And of course the snow was one of our favorites.

When we finished we got the recorders at home. And we are so exited of what will come out of that.

Here are a little selection of the best of:


Found wondering the building at BMS, Berlin


For Sonic snaps students explored the school build for sounds with the recorder in hands.

I was unable to follow them with a camera for taking photos.

Here are some sounds they found …