The City Rings

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Sonic Postcards from Ghent !


Hi there again ,
The 2 previous sessions were pretty intense. We gathered sonic treasures in small basements and large attics, in busy streets and peaceful parks. Each person mixed up his/her favourite sounds and worked on a composition individually. Before we started everyone chose one keyword : a personal emotion that was linked to the city. Listen to our compositions and tell us how you feel !
We’re so curious to hear your work, we’ll get back to you on that friday !


Record Play


Hi there again,
Today we first wanted to hear the French and Spanish compositions.
Nice to hear how our sounds were organized and mixed up into something new : excellent work !

The composer John Cage once said : “Whether I make them or not, there are always sounds to be heard and all of them are excellent.” and who are we to deny that ?
So we went out on the playground and out on the streets to hunt for soundtreasures.
Armed with a recorder and headphones we listened to the world around us.
After a while we got more and more familiar with the recording process ( adjusting volumes, avoiding unwanted sounds ,…).
This weekend we continue recording at home and start preparing our individual compositions so : hang in there !


My Sounds from Ghent


Hello ,
Here we are again for a new edition of the CityRings in Ghent.
As a start we listened to ‘silence’ for a minute. But it turned out there was no silence at all. We heard a lot of sounds around us, especially because there were loud construction works going on in the school. But we also heard very tiny sounds such as the movement of our clothes and dripping of water somewhere we couldn’t locate.

Afterwards we experimented with the sound objects everyone brought from home.
We tried to make as many different sounds as possible with them and we recorded our favourite sounds. You can listen to some of them here :

Then we listened carefully to our sounds and it was crazy to see that we sometimes couldn’t remember how the sound was made.
To end the first session we listened to a movie fragment and we tried to make up our own story of it just by listening. Listening to movies ( without seeing it ) defintely triggers imagination, you should try it too there in France and Spain !
More soon !


Part 2 : Spain and France Remixed


Hi there,
Today we had our second session : the one where we start building compositions with sounds made in the other countries.
Off course we started listening to the sounds very carefully.
Fascinating how some sounds made us feel very anxious and adhd, while others had a very gentle and restful effect. Even more fascinating that the same sound was frightening for some and funny for others.
We noticed it’s very inspiring that we don’t know the source of the sounds, now we didn’t make them ourselves.
The sound of Melvin f.e reminded us of u heavy storm at sea, we could even hear the crew of the ship falling on the deck.

After the dissection of the French and Spanish sounds, we learned how to combine and organize the indivdual sounds into a composition. We used multitracksoftware and experimented with sequencing and layering of sounds, we also found out how we could copy, cut, paste and balance all the sounds.
Then the real work started : we split up into two groups : one group made a composition out of French sounds, the other made one out of Spanish sounds.
You can listen to our work here, let us know what you think !
Curious to hear your compositions and anxious to start recording new sounds.
Regards from Ghent !



Sonic Postcards From Ghent


Dear reader,
As you might remember last week we focussed on recording : with wide open ears we searched our environment for interesting sounds. Just like a beachcomber scans the shoreline for washed-up treasures, we scanned our school,streets,houses,… for fascinating acoustic treasures.
In this fourth session , the Sonic Postcard session, we worked in pairs and each duo
made a composition with the sounds they recorded during the last week.

Maybe there’s a bit different approach here then in Barcelona, mainly because :

– we lend the recorders for one week , so the pupils can record sounds wherever/whenever they want :
at night in grandmother’s attic, in the garden at 6am, in the bus on the way to school,….

– while me made the first ‘soundscape’ alltogether , this Sonic Postcards are also made in duos,
but here we don’t have the restriction to make a ‘natural sounding composition ‘, at the contrary :
pupils try to organize and manipulate their sounds in such a way that it becomes very personal and that we get to know more about how they experience their city/environment.
So it’s not only about registrating reality, but also about manipulating reality to tell the story we’d like to tell. Some pupils are inspired by the tranquility of their environment , while others want to express the ‘hustle and bustle’ of their city.

Before the kids started composing, we did a demo of the multitracksoftware and showed the kids how to edit their sounds ( cut, copy,paste ) and how they could organize/mix their sounds ( concept of multitrack/ volume & panning envelopes ). Luckily the kids seemed to remember most of these skills from the Soundscape session.
Then each duo had a small brainstorm on what kind of energy/feeling they wanted to express with their composition and which sounds would be good for that purpose.
After that every duo started to work on their 1minute composition.
You can hear the results here, enjoy !


One, Two,Three : Recording !


Today pupils were too curious to know what happened to their mySounds and how they were used in the Spanish compositions. So we started listening to the different compositions and discussing/comparing them, and tried to describe the compositions with keywords : heroic, nervous, energetic were the words that were used most here. Pupils seemed to like the use of contrast and the progression of the Spanish compositions: silent <> loud / dark,raw <> soft, light … You did a great job there in Barcelona !
Then time for some action : today we got ourselves familiar with the process of recording : we learned about the portable recorders and about the whole ritual that comes with recording sounds.
Our first recordings weren’t really that good : sometimes sounds were recorded too loud, sometimes too silent.
We also learned that it’s really necessary to check for unwanted/disturbing sounds : sometimes we’re so focussed on the sound we’d like to record , that we don’t hear any other disturbing sounds around such as radios playing , people talking, cars passing by…
Hmm, recording seems to be a process that needs some concentration, but after a while recordings got better and better. You can listen to some of our Sonic Snaps here, next week we’ll have more and start composing !
Good luck !


part 2 : Belgian Soundscapes !


Dear readers, this week we had our second session of TCR here in Ghent.We listened closely to the sounds we got from our friends in Barcelona (which were very good) and we discussed those sounds: what do you feel when you hear these sounds? Fascinating to hear the many different energies sounds can have : some sounds make us laugh, others frighten us, some sounds make us bloody nervous, while others make us feel totally relaxed.
With all those different sounds we started working on a composition in 2 groups. We briefly explained how Sony Vegas worked (the program that we would be using to make the compositions) and we split up in 2 groups. Each group would make a composition of 1 minute, using the sounds we got from our Spanish friends.
When the compositions were ready, we carefully listened to eachother’s work. Remarkable to hear how all 4 groups seemed to like the same sounds and used them in their compositions,this preference of certain sounds,is very interesting. Have a listen below !
Next week we’re going to experiment some more with recording sounds. Until then, best of luck in Barcelona!


Ghent take off !


Hi there , things are going well in Belgium : just started a new edition of The CityRings project !
We, Aifoon, are working together with the pupils from De Toverberg and De Wijze Boom, 2 schools with 4th grade pupils.
Because there already was a session in Barcelona, we first listened to the Santa Anna school bell. The pupils immediately noticed the difference from the Santa Anna school bell and the one from their school. Seems like the children in Barcelona don’t hear so well, ‘cause the school bell goes on and on!
You can see the Belgian schoolbells over here :

For our first exercise, we asked the children to close their eyes and listen to their surroundings. We also gave some kids a recorder, which they could use to amplify the sound and listen even better! When they were very quiet, there were much sounds that could be heard : the steps of other teachers in the building, the clock that was ticking, the children that were moving, the birds that were singing, the low hum of traffic in the distance, water that was flowing, children who inhaled,…
Afterwards we discussed silence. We tried to find places where there’s no sound at all, but that turned out to be very difficult, there seems to be sound (almost) everywhere / anytime.
Then we started with the real exercise : the ‘”mySounds”. Everybody brought an object that represented themselves, or made a sound that they loved.
You can listen to some of the sounds here :

Listen to the full mySounds pack here

We discussed their sounds and some other sounds allready recorded. This showed that some sounds can have many associations ; a loud refrigerator also sounds like a lawn mower!
To end the day, we listened carefully to the sound of a movie without showing what was going on. They needed to listen and try to explain what was going on in the movie. This also gave some cool interesting reactions; most pupils thought the sounds came from a haunted house!
It’s nice to see how much imagination the kids have, so expect some more soon !


Sonic Postcards from Ghent


We had the last 2 sessions here in Ghent. In the 4th session we learnt further tips & tricks of the editing software Vegas. We experimented with trimming, copying, manipulating and layering of sounds. Then everyone came up with some keywords and a sketch/drawing , as a ‘scenario’ for their personal postcard. This way everyone had a clear idea how their composition would develop over time , and which effect they wanted to have on the listener of the composition. While in the 4th session we only had time to do the basic outline of our arrangment, the last session left more time for refinements and further experimentation.

Mobi class composing

The last session we started by listening to some of the (unfinished) compositions. We discussed pros and cons and came up with ideas on how some compositions could be improved. Learnful for the makers to get ideas and feedback right away. This discussion led us to Brian Eno’s “Oblique Strategies” : a set of published cards , with cryptic remarks that can be used to break a deadlock or dilemna situation , specific for music composition.

Below are some cards that were really useful for us , can you find which composition drew inspiration from which card ?

Honour thy error as a hidden intention
Discover the recipes you are using and abandon them
Repetition is a form of change
Give way to your worst impulse


Sonic Snaps from Ghent


Third session at Mobi and Wispelberg school in Ghent.
Today we focussed on listening and recording.
In pairs we went for a “soundwalk “ in and round the school.
First we started with listening only : the fact that you can hear your environment amplified and in so much detail is really intense and overwhelming . Never noticed before that our school & the city made so much sound !
The recorder seems to be both a microscope and a telescope :
we could hear very close sounds in detail, but we could also hear many distant, unrecognizable sounds.
We did a small repetition of the technical part of the recording process ( monitoring, checking input volumes,
checking for unwanted disturbing sounds etc,….. )
We found out that a microphone is an instrument in a way : by choosing position, by moving the mic, by hiding in f.e a tube, we can change and colour the sound .
After some recording exercices we went back to the class and listened closely to (y)our sounds. We listened to & discussed the UK/Spain sounds, and afterwards everyone came up with a list of sounds they definitely wanted to find and record properly for our Sonic Postcards .
See some pictures and listen to some of our SonicSnaps here :