The City Rings

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Postcards from Paris ..

Despite a very busy school timetable we managed to finish our sonic postcards. The class was divided into six groups of four .. as we only had one computer that worked.. and each group came and worked individually with me. Excitement levels were high after our very successful morning of recording sounds in the local area. Most groups chose to mix sounds from the quartier with what we managed to capture from within the school grounds. Before listening to everyone’s cards we had a last final listen to the sonic snaps from Gualtar. The chestnuts roasting and the church bell gave us a lovely impression of what daily life is like there. By way of a reply I hope you enjoy these very urban Parisian postcards. Until the next time, happy listening to you all.


Sonic snapshots of the 20th arrondissement in Paris

We tried to record typical Parisian sounds. Here is a selection of images and recordings. See if you can match them !










Mysounds.. your sounds .. OUR sounds

Another fun, but hectic day at the Ecole Olivier Métra. We overlapped with our partner school in Portugal so downloaded Rennes sounds instead which were great too. Before listening back we evoked what living in a small town in the Portuguese countryside might be like. They laughed when I told them that the children from Gualtar imagined Paris smelling of crêpes…and replied that it must be nice to be able to smell flowers and chestnuts instead of pollution. The tuning fork recorded by Rennes led the class to think about different sounds of church bells and how far you can hear them. Not something you hear in every arondissement in Paris.
We also discussed whether recordings made with everyday objects can be ‘composed’ or made into music. Like Berlin we watched the film, Music for One Appartment and Six Drummers which answered the question to some extent.
Globally the Rennes sounds were pretty similar to what we had managed to record, and as there was some frustration that we hadn’t had enough time to listen to the other group’s sounds ( the class has 26pupils and I am all alone, so I have been taking half the class at a time) we decided to remix our sounds with Rennes. You can hear the result here :

Using Audacity we also discussed the volume of the mix, and what sounds work together and why, and what doesn’t work, ie piling all the sounds, one on top of another to see what happens. Also this particular mix is too loud at the beginning.
Tomorrow we will be recording the inner workings of the school and will post the results of our findings.

Part II.
First some photos of us discovering the sonic properties of the school :






The class was divided in two, half with me, and half with their teacher Maddalen. We scoured the school and came up with some great sounds, and probably disturbed the rest of the school in the process… but there you go.
The pupils will have spent the weekend scouting for sounds in the area which we will attempt to capture tomorrow morning. In the meantime, a taste of what we found at the school. The rest can of course be found online.


A grey and misty Monday morning

Hello to all from us in Paris !


We didn’t waste anytime this morning. At 8h30 we were already in class and the pupils from Olivier Métra school presented and explained their choice for the objects brought from home. Here are a few photos :


We will let you discover which images goes with which sound.



We didn’t have very much time as there is an early morning break, so each pupil experimented with their object and tried to make as many different sounds as possible. Before recording we discussed the difference between how a microphone ‘hears’ and how humans hear. This was also done as a reminder  not to make extraneous noises during the recording session. The objects were then recorded  individually before we attempted short improvisations in small groups. Again, due to the time factor, we didn’t manage to make a class composition, or look at audacity, so we concentrated on making sounds instead. The three words which came out of impro sessions, were joyful, sad and funny.








Many felt that the quieter, softer impro session gave them a sense of sadness, whereas the louder and more boisterous one made everyone laugh.


Two people brought small music boxes to the session, so we tried to focus not on the music itself, but on the different surfaces that resonated when the box was played on it.


The class is really looking forward to hearing the sounds from Portugal.


We did have time to quickly look at the photos of your school, for which many thanks !


Here below are some of our recordings and impro sessions ( which are longer). The rest can be downloaded online.   Apologies for the hum of the videoprojector, we will be more attentive tomorrow !







Ecole Olivier Métra.









This is Maddalen’s class ( CE2) at the Ecole Olivier Métra in the 19th arondissement in Paris. There are 300 pupils in the whole school which goes from CP (6-7year olds) to CM2 (11 year olds).
The school is near one of Paris’ most popular parks, the Butte de Chaumont, so it is a  ‘greener’ area of the city than some.
The class have been preparing for this project with their teacher, Maddalen who you can just about see on the left hand side of this photo.
Here is a recording of the playground, just before lunchtime, and the school bell :



Olivier Métra was a French composer and conductor, famous for his walses and polkas. What might he have thought of the City Rings?


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 !


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…


A Parisian take on Ghent sounds

Hello all !

Well we had a very busy and productive afternoon. We first of all listened to the sounds from our partner school in Ghent, and had some difficulty in guessing all of them. In the end we voted on what we thought was the most likely sound source. If we heard correctly there were quite a lot kitchen utensils ? We imagined an egg timer ticking the seconds away, copper saucepans lids crashing together like cymbals, a metal tray banged with a soft object that sounded like a wonderful gong, and jam jar lids being pushed in and out. I won’t list what we made of all of the recordings, but we thoroughly enjoyed listening, so thank you.

For everyone in the class it was the first time using Audacity, so we went through the basics ( importing sounds, sequencing, editing) and just about managed to create three short soundscapes in the time we had left.

Each group heard something different in the sounds.

This first group imagined their composition as a fairytale set in a cave – kitchen.  A new take on Cinderella ?



The second group heard environmental, pastoral  sounds in the recordings. Inspired by this they created a walk in a forest where they stumble upon a woodcutter doing some carpentry.



The third group thought there was a lot of activity and movement in the recordings. They imagined cogs turning, springs bouncing and machines spinning into action all by themselves. Hear for yourselves :



We will not have a session tomorrow, it being Wednesday, and that means no school in France, so we will listen to our partner schools creations on Thursday. Happy recording.


Mysounds from Paris

Hello from Paris where Winter has arrived.

We started our session by listening to all the bells and thinking about the descriptions of the schools. The general thought was that our bell ( Henriette )seemed the loudest and oldest.. whilst many of the others sounded more ‘electronic’ and impersonal.  This was not intended to be a competition !

Unfortunately the person who was taking photos of our session has technical problems with her camera, so sorry, no photos today.

Each pupil revealed their object to the rest of the class. It was also a  chance for the pupils to listen through their ears and through the headphones, what difference does this make ? We re-familiarised ourselves with recording techniques and tried to make several different sounds with the same object, and not only tap with our hands. For instance one pupil breathed deeply in and out of a plastic bottle, another shook her whole body which ‘rung’ her many gold bracelets, someone else dropped a small tin on the floor.   Some objects were more personal than others.

Here are some examples :


The ‘cricket’ is an interesting object. It is a signalling device used by French soldiers in the Second World War. What could be a modern day sonic signalling device?

And lastly our class composition, entitled ‘Symphonie de Bruits Quotidiens’ ( Symphonie of Everyday Sounds) – we are French you know !


Looking forward to hearing your work. A demain.