The City Rings

Month: May, 2014

Postcards from Etoy, Switzerland

Postcards sent!
Can you connect the Postcard to the visual creation?

Kids from Athens and Gent- thank you so much for working with us with the City Rings project. This amazing collaboration has bound us all together through the medium of sound. We have tried our best to connect other member of our school community too and many students from other grades have wanted to use the recorders and created Soundscapes. Our teachers are thinking of new ways to embed these ideas into our curriculum. We shall definitely share all the Postcards with the whole school community via our Facebook page and hopefully create an interactive gallery using maybe QR codes.
We have had many discussions in school about how much access to mobile learning devices and screen time students should have. The City Rings project has highlighted how digital arts and technologies can help us cross borders and reconnect with our own environment. The mindset of our students throughout the project had been that of exploration, inquiry and wonder which they will take with them into other areas of learning and life.
Until next time!


Postcards from Sint-Laurens Belgium


Hello all!

We finished our postcards and are happy to send them over to you! We also made drawings to express the things we wanted to tell with our sounds and to have a clear view on our editing process. We hope you will enjoy our postcards and are looking forward to listen to yours! Many greets from us, Sint-Laurens kids from Sint-Kruis-Winkel, Ghent, Belgium!













Sonic postcards from Athens!

Hello to you all!

We have been working on our sonic postcards for the last two days! It has been a bit difficult to organize it because we only had two laptops to work with. So, we decided to form groups and share activities. Here’s our plan: each day two groups worked with Audacity and the rest dedicated our time in visual scores!

About the sonic postcards:

We have made three of them! We did not want to work on a certain scenario. On the contrary, we wanted to listen many times to the sounds we had made and decide on our compositions more spontaneously, trying various combinations of sounds. Each group collaborated democratically on contents choosing sounds that the whole group liked. Little by little we decided on what would our final outcome sound like. During this process we concentrated on the title of each composition trying to find a title that would fit it best! Finally, on Tuesday we listened to our outcome realizing that each group had worked in a very special way: some were more rhythmical than others, others more literal, others more associative…

Let’s listen to them:

1. FrenoCar (by Flori, Kostis, Mateo): Φρένο (Freno) in Greek means brake. So this composition is about cars. Athens is full of cars and their sounds are very typical of our city! Us composers like beatboxing and pop music, too, so we thought of working with human voice and repetition as well.

2. The barba(by Ekramul, Muhammad, Leonardo): we thought that the sound of the word barba has something in common with the composition that follows, so we decided to name our postcard after it. We have used a variety of sounds to create it!

3. Three rains (by Joana, Marina, Erisha): Due to a technical problem we will only be able to upload this sound by next Tuesday. Until then, try to imagine various types of rain: heavy, light, dense… They all sound differently, don’t they? We have attempted to create a rainy atmosphere here without using any rain sound at all!

About the visual scores:

While the two laptops were fully working on Audacity projects in two continuous days, the rest of the class talked about pentagram scores and visual scores. We talked about Wassily Kandinsky’s connections between sound and painting, as well. In the city rings blog, we found and watched Artikulation: As the sounds of Gyorgy Ligeti’s piece are played, one can simultaneously see the visual score made by Rainer Wehinger.

After that, we were asked to stop and listen very carefully and try to create visual scores of the soundscape in the very moment it was being composed. Listening attentively, it was only but a matter of time that shapes and patterns emerged to describe the others’ voices, the sounds that came from their headphones, the sound of traffic, Linos’ (the bird!) chirps, Sofia’ s steps, our pencils on paper, our breaths, the murmur of the classroom, laughter and many many more! Here you can take a look of some of our scores (By Muhammad, Selena, Flori, Leonardo, Ekramul, Spyridoula, Mateo, Kostis -not in order of appearance!):

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Finally, this is an Origami T-Shirt by Selena with many of the symbols she has used in her scores on it:


Last, but not least, we would like to thank you very much for sharing sounds and ideas with us! Working with you has been a great pleasure and every time we had a session we were longing to listen to you on the blog!

Little by little, Summer is approaching, so we wish you have a great and sonorous Summer this year!

The kids from 49 primary School of Athens!



Sonic Snaps and visual imagery weave our compositions

We began today with a short visualisation imagining our keyword. With our keyword we imagined textures, colours, shapes and forms that could be associated with these words. Then listening to our sonic snaps we connected our visualisations with some of these sounds. The group had some ingenious ideas for grabbing sounds at home using personal devices as we have limited recorders in school. Our incredible resourceful students used mp3 players, video capture on a tablet, voice memos on an iPod and GarageBand. I have featured some of the collection below.
With our images and sound ideas growing in our minds we had the chance to create visual interpretations of our ideas using a variety of media from pencil and paper and crayon to using the app ‘Brushes’ on iPad or sculpture. These creations prompted some great dialogue about our compositions.

Plenty more here:
I have the opportunity to work with many grade levels throughout the week. I visited grade one later in the morning. We listened to the sonic snaps from Athens and Gent and imagined which living thing could sound like these.
Weaving the compositions in our mind and visually, we are ready to begin composing.


more SonicSnaps from Athens!

Hello to all of you!

Today we had our fourth session! Unfortunately, we haven’t managed to gather all of the sound recordings yet. We will have everything by tomorrow, though. So, we decided to dedicate this session to other sonorous things… We took a look at your comments on our first sounscape and were very intrigued by the idea of sonic cinema! It was so fun to read how differently each one of you have perceived the same sound. Thank you both for the great idea! So, here´s where your sounds have taken us to:

a sound from Ghent (we tried not to spy on the title…):


is the soundtrack for…

-a bank robbery

-person blowing in his hands because he is cold and tries to roll a big rock outside a cave in order to get in.

-a man is running because he is being chased by a lion. The lion tries to throw a stone to him.

-a man cutting down a tree.

-a man on a bicycle, horning.

-a fireman goes to extinguish a fire.

-school bell ringing. the students run like dogs.

-dogs with bells hanging from their necks run.

a sound by Etoy:


was the soundtrack for…

-a train that horns and stops at the station./tram coming from the previous station./train that horns to a dog

-the school’s bell/fire alarm.

-a crazy alarm clock wakes the chicken up and they are taken aback.

-a child wakes up and takes his/her skate. Almost runs into a dog!

-a ship full of containers horns. People unload the containers and the air comes.

-workers building a house.

another sound by Etoy:


was the soundtrack for…

-a guy driving a truck in the snow. He is trapped by the snow and gets down to dig and continue his drive.

-people disembark from a ship after having crossed the car parking, take their luggage and get off.

-a radio trying to get signal.

-a ship off for a trip. its radar being fixed.

-it rains. A guy gets in his house and gets out again because he dropped his keys down.

-Kiriku runs away from the witch.

-a submarine in the bottom of the sea. it comes next to a cargo ship and the ship takes it inside. then the ship’s engine starts.

-lots of traffic in the street, trucks horning, dogs barking, people running.

-the Titanic sinking.


Afrer listening to some soundscapes from you, we listened to the sounds that we recorded these days and talked about our experience. Unfortunately, we have had some problems: some of us could not complete their recordings and some others have had interventions from people speaking, unwanted noises etc. Last, but not least, heroic Joanna got burnt trying to record the boiler…
Reading Ghent’s post, we realized that you have had as well some of our problems: there were interventions in your recordings, too. Gent helped us understand that sometimes interventions might be interesting and that listening to the soundscape can be itself a composition full of unpredictable surprises.
Listening to our sounds, we noticed the low quality of the mp3 players and wondered whether this is a disadvantage or it can be welcome sometimes, too. In order to think on lo-fi sound, we listened to an example that comes from music: the Cocorosie sisters, (who use children’s toys with lo-fi sound, as well) recorded their first album not in a proper studio but in their bathroom! Listening to Terrible Angels we imagined them playing in the bathroom, we talked about the small room’s acoustics and paid attention to the toy’s sounds and to the little “noises” that were captured during the recording.

Here they go:

Has their sound been affected? Yes, but in a positive way! So, for the next days we need to think on how we can mix our recordings made with the high quality recorders with the ones made with the mp3 players in a way that we have an interesting outcome!

Here are some of our recordings. In order to know who is the author and what is being recorded, we say our name and give a small description of the sound in the beginning of each file:



cars and traffic!

an electronic toy!


the notorious boiler!

drinking glass!


letting something down!

drawing (and brother’s intervention…)!

That’s all for now! We are very anxious to start with our sonic postcards tomorrow!

Listen to you soon!


Snap snap snap from Sonic Sint-Laurens


Hello there,

Today we arrived back at school with a lot of recordings we made at home and in our neighbourhood. It was not always easy to capture the sound right. Because sometimes other sounds and peoples voices interfered while we where recording. Still it was very exciting to search for interesting sounds and to discover that our daily sonic environment is actually a composition on it’s own. Here are some sonic snaps that we managed to capture:







Sonic cinema stimulates story telling!

Friday afternoon at the movies! We brought two classes together to listen to some of the Soundscapes created during the first week of the project. The lights were dimmed, imaginary popcorn shared and the films rolled. The only difference, the images and visuals were in our imagination.(We have and some interesting discussions around topics of accessibility and whether it’s possible to experience ‘the movies’ if one is blind.)
We were careful not give any direction to the visualisations created, no titles or preconceived ideas with the first three; Random, Athens, At the movies. Only giving general guidance of what to listen for in characters, settings, landscape, time of day etc with will be beneficial next week when building new compositions.
First up, ‘Random’

We visualised:
“My dad blowing into a beer bottle”
“My dad driving a train”
“With my family in a car making funny sounds”
“Underwater in a submarine-I saw a shark”
“Snorkeler blowing through a snorkel”
“Underwater- with a whale blowing bubbles”
“Train taking me to my dreamland”
“Steamboat ride”

Second, the Soundscape from Athens:

We imagined:
“Raining- I’m in the film, in the afternoon”
“Having a haircut- wet hair then dry hair”
“A toy I used to play with- a wind up toy”
“Two kids slamming a door and then locking it”
“My car in the rain”
“Like a tape measure- a dancing one”
“Objects with eyes in a room looking at me”

Next up: At the the Movies- Gent

We were really getting into the creative mindset now:
“An old lady going to the cinema on a very rainy day. Eating popcorn.”
“A grandpa putting things into a bin, he was in a bad mood.”
“A random man, riding a bike, dodging fireballs”
“Somebody with speedy legs”
“At the theatre- helicopters, planes and trains”
“Someone playing chess on an aeroplane”
“A man working, he makes a remote control aeroplane”
“In a market place- moving things”

Final Soundscape, “A Strange Woman” Gent
With this composition we knew the title, so we imagined this strange woman, using questions as provocations. Who was she? What was she wearing? What would she be listening to on her iPod? What sort of book would she be carrying? …

Here she is:
She could be called, “Molly, Polly, Bobby, Putini, Lizzy or Nono”
Her mood, “Mad, busy, angry, crazy”
Hair, “Red head, curly, cropped, green and short, blondy/brown”
Age, “250!20, 29, 32, 20, 26, 89″
Song on iPod, “a story about running, Michael Jackson, Heavy Metal”
Book, “Mr Putter and Tabby, Police officers notebook, Diary”

She is quite a character!

I am amazed by the diversity of ideas and how the project has stimulated creativity and imagination. The City Rings project has taken us all on a journey of wonder, through the architecture of sound. We are building new landscapes and reconnecting to our physical environment through digital recordings and compositions- another example of the power of digital arts in redefining how we ‘see’ and experience the world around us.


Connecting through sound!

We had an enjoyable session today imagining some of the sounds from Athens and Gent and then creating our first compositions.
Using the storyboard technique from yesterday we began by listening to a few sounds and drawing a line drawing without taking our pencil off the paper. We found comparing these with the sound waves very insightful. The blikje from Gent was- upside down, a bee flying, a movie, an Airplane. With the next sound our imagination were opened further we had a castle in sand, bubble gum, a clock, the snap of a finger, a hand shake, two kids playing a hand game, rain, a monastery. WOW! All from one sound, can you guess which. Thanks to both schools for providing us with some great story settings! Following this we looked at sound and composition shape comparing sound waves and looking at the layers of a composition. We are lucky to have access to iPads in class so we used GarageBand to compose in.
The end of the day we had a mini hackathon, part of which used a Makey Makey which aloud use to play sounds from Playdough, fruit and even each other which haas pretty exciting.
We hope you recognise some of your sounds in our compositions.


Listening through the recorders

Hello everybody!
Our third session was lots of fun!
We started by watching the kitchen scene from Music for apartment and six drummers. We thought the woman with the mixer was very funny and we liked the sound of the egg slicer. Some of us wondered if things are destroyed the way the drummers manipulated them. But then, we saw them leaving the room (almost!) untouched. The scene gave us some ideas on how we can produce sound at home, with everyday stuff.

After that, we took some time listening to your soundscapes! We liked a lot some of them and some others were quite confusing. We were very enthusiastic about recognizing some of our sounds within bigger compositions: Marina’s duck, Ecramol’s chain, Leonardo’s clicking sound, Mateo’s funny lip noise, Joana’s Frog, Kostis’ paper flapping, Flori’s pencil, Selena’s keys… It was very interesting to see (or let’s put it more correctly, to listen to) how our material was transformed into something new!

Then we turned the recorders on and listened. The first contact with augmented sound was a big surprise! We could hear all the tiny noises and the cars passing by our school! We started playing with the possibilities that this new medium gave us. We moved the microphones towards and away from a sound source, we shouted, we blew on the microphones and we whispered. We also revealed some secrets to the ones who had the headphones on… While experimenting, we learned how the recorders work. Check some of our experimentations out. Warning! Voices included ;)
1. Blowing close to the microphone:

2. Moving recorder towards and away from voice:

3. Plastic bag and voice:

Finally, we decided to continue working outside, at the yard, and do some recordings there. We realized that the traffic noise is omnipresent! Listen to our recordings:
1. Our faucets and a car passing by:

2. Clapping hands all together:

4 Running around:

Did you notice the space’s affection on the running recording? Take a look at it: It is a semi-closed room (3 walls and ceiling but open to the yard):
Finally, we got back to class and we were given some recorders to take home. However, these recorders are different from the ones we have been experimenting with so far.. They are simple mp3 players that have the possibility to record as well, in this case in low quality. But, is low quality necessarily unwanted? Or does it offer the possibility for different, interesting results? We ll answer to that question next time. In the meanwhile, take some time to think about it as well!
Looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Our first composition!

Hello Ghent, Hello Etoy!

We started our second session by listening to your bells. How different is Etoy´s bell from ours!! It reminded us of the sound announcements in the Metro. “Next station…. Keramikos!”

Then, we tried to guess the source of your sounds. Sometimes it was too hard to guess! We recognized very easily the sound of coins but it was impossible to guess the squeaking sound of the adhesive tape! Could it be a spaceship taking off? Luckily, Muhammad had some tape with him and, when he pulled the edge, we realized it was alike to what you sent us.

After that, we opened some files in Audacity. We were very curious to find out what happens if more than one sound are played simultaneously. We learned the basic functions: how to move, cut, copy, paste, change the volume, fade in and out and more!


Joana, Flori and Leonardo have chosen one sound each and formed a group in order to make a composition together. The rest of the class were watching their moves and commenting. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to create more compositions and we can’t wait for the next steps of the project to really get into editing! Listen to our first sound:

We are curious to listen to your compositions next time and check if we recognize any of our sounds in them!