The City Rings

Author posts.

Sonic ending

Hello all!

If we had to select a tool from Audacity that everyone seems to love, that would be the envelope tool. With it not only they can easily manage intensity as a compositional strategy, but… it looks… so cool! :D They really like the visual aspect of it.
So we finished the Sonic Postcards composition today. We all wish we had more time, with 1 hour (ouch) per session, we can barely scratch the surface of what is possible. Nevertheless I am always amazed at the inventive and creativity bursts of TheCityRings participants.

There you have them, concentrating on sound, its pesky waves, and how to drag them around, cut them, establish relations between multiple tracks, intensity curves, repetition… oh, but you know what I am talking about.
Please take a listen to this postcards, and you can visit the pack at Freesound, as usual, to listen to the rest, just click here

We want to say thanks to every other school, in two days we will listen and comment on your postcards.


Until next time!


Sound around

Hello again :)
One girl at our class, named Mebilin, really liked the recorder drawing posted by Rennes school and draw her own :)

Last friday we had an introduction to sound recording, and a sound hunting session around the school. We emphasized listening before recording, and not being shy at recording for a long time. We also talked about the position of the microphones in relation to what is being recorded, for it is not the same to record the water emerging from the tap, than hitting the sink, and we wanted them to notice these differences and take decisions about them.

This sound recording practice was a small rehearsal for when, after school, the class took the recorders home in order to record sounds that belong to the environments they live in. Here are some of those sounds for you to listen to… enjoy


Today we had another session in which we took quite some time to see what French and Belgian schools have been doing, in particular your sounds and compositions. Students where stimulated by the comments received on their composition, for its creativity and imagination; and so we have been preparing some comments to send you back, you will receive them soon!

We have also started selecting and cleaning the sounds recorded at home, for our final Sonic Postcard composition. Which we will finish next monday. It is a bit later than expected, but we hope there will be a way for the composition to reach the students at French and Belgian schools
Great work you all!


Mysounds from Barcelona

Hello :)

Today we had the first session of the The City Rings November 2012 edition. And the first session is the Mysounds session, as you all know ;)



So we asked the participants to bring some objects today to class, beloved objects, or objects that represent them in a way or another. But what we did not tell them is that we were going to explore those objects as if they were musical, or sonic, instruments. And that is what we did.



First we talked in group about the materials and shape of the instruments, and about the different ways to “activate” them in order to produce sound. It is no the same to rub slow than fast, against wood or fabric, continuously or leaving silences, etc.



After the group introduction we gave everybody a few minutes in order to test and write down around 5 to 6 ways to get interesting sounds out of the objects, and then we recorded some of them. You can listen to a selection here:


And click here to visit the Freesound pack in order to listen to the rest of them.


Thanks for tuning in! until next time :)



Barcelona (sonic) postcard time !


We, at Sons de Barcelona believe in open source software, and alternatives to copyright. This is why all the sounds recorded during our workshops go to Freesound where they are free to download and use under a Creative Commons license. And this is why we always use Audacity to edit and sequence sounds.


So, when we started the session dedicated to composing the sonic postcards, we had the pleasant surprise to find out this school’s computers run Ubuntu, which is a good Linux distribution (Linux is a free open-source operating system). Good start!


As you may remember, past week we dedicated it to record sounds that pupils found were characteristic of their school; with the intention of using those sounds to create a composition that was to be sent to Belgium, as a way of saying “hi there! this is how our school sounds”.



The main difference between this exercise and the Soundscapes one, is that, while we did the Soundscapes all together, the postcards we do them in groups of two or three pupils each. The intention is for them to gain autonomy with the software and the composition decision making. Another difference with the Soundscapes exercise is that this time we ask them for a “natural-sounding composition”, so they cannot use effects, heavy copy pasting, or any strategy that makes the final result seem more musical than descriptive, so to say (although they do not always do what we say…).


So, children start by loading their sounds into Audacity and listen to them, to come up with a first selection of those who are well recorded. Then they go on overlapping them, doing sudden and progressive transitions, handling volumes and panning, deleting bad takes, etc. as to end up getting a piece of approximately one minute in duration.



This is an exercise that requires quite a lot of concentration and attentive listening. It is noteworthy they had to resolve it in not much more than one hour, a difficult task even for experienced sound artists, indeed. We invite you here to listen to a selection of their results, and, as usual, visit our freesound page to hear the rest of them. Thanks for reading, enjoy.



Recording the school


A recording of a large pot full of meatballs on the cooking is not what we had in mind when we asked the pupils to think of, and record, sounds that were representative of their school. But it certainly works!


So, yes, we had a field-recording session, where pupils were to get sonic material for their last exercise: the sonic postcards, but that is next week….


Now, since the process of recording requires, I would say, an immersive approach, as well as a trial and error one; we usually leave the whole session for the pupils to go around and explore their school, recorder in hand, and that is all there is to it. With the exception of a small introduction dedicated to refresh their knowledge on how the recorders function, and what are the adequate procedures to record sound.


For example, they know that if a sound is too loud, or the sensitivity of the recorders is too high, or they are too near the sound source, or a combination of those; the recorded sound wave may clip and distort. So they had to adjust the sensitivity, input level and proximity to the sound in order for this not to happen.


They also know it is important to pay attention to background noise, when recording a concrete sound, if they want to get a clear take. And that they have to listen to their recordings after taking them, as to repeat them if they did not come up well.


Of course we were around :) so we could resolve their doubts with both the equipment and the procedures (and their entangling headphone cables)




Overall it was a fun session, running around with strange machinery, like ghost hunters, listening to amplified sounds, and learning to record sound. Now, please, listen to some of their results (note this is a school were music and singing is part of the everyday sonic environment) You can listen to the rest clicking here. Enjoy.



Barcelona starts it!

Dear readers: here we go again :)


Today we started the first session of the January 2012 exchange workshop at The City Rings project. We, Sons de Barcelona, are working with Santa Anna school, at Barcelona.


After presenting ourselves, and The City Rings project to the pupils of 5th and 6th grade; we did show them images and sounds (particularly school bell sounds) from the belgian schools we’ll be doing the exchange with. Pupils found the differences between bell sounds quite noteworthy and funny. This is an image of Santa Anna school’s bell:




…looking good old bell, don’t you think?


The first exercise of the workshop, as you may know already,  is the “mySounds” exercise. In which pupils are asked to bring an object that is beloved to them, or that represents them in one way or another, and then explore its sonic capabilities. In the 6th grade class we encountered a funny situation in which most pupils decide to bring their first teddy bears and other significant cuddly toys. Here, see:



…later on we all suffered this decision, while trying to extract interesting sounds from oh-so-cute and adorable, but not very sonorous little animals :/


In any case, and with the help of the whole class, we accomplished, more or less, our goals. We did a recording session in which pupils took the portable recorders in their own hands, and one by one produced their best sounds, while the rest of us kept total silence (we can’t say the same of those other pupils on their playground time :D ). I have to say that, while being their first contact with such machines, they were really fast on understanding the mechanics and procedures of recording sounds (One even mentioned he is going to ask for a recorder as a birthday gift! sound-geek proselytism at its best!)




Here you can hear a couple of our mySounds


…and, please, visit the Jan 2012 mySounds pack at Freesound to hear the rest of them!


Hope you are enjoying, come back!

All the best.




Sonic Snaps from Barcelona

So we’ve done our third session here at Ramon Berenguer IV school :) namely the Sonic Snaps session.

We started by listening to Soundscapes from Belgium, the ones we had at that moment, paying attention to its structure and dynamics, intensities, changes, repetitions, etc. Then we listened to our own, paying attention to this characteristics, and we particularly liked this one:

…listening closely we also arrived to the conclusion that most -but not all- of our compositions were quite chaotic and with a monotonous structure that could be improved paying attention to the volumes of sounds, the silences between sections, repetitions, etc. So we learned something here! ;) and we expect to be applying this to our Sonic Postcard exercise.

Then we listened to some of mySounds that were discarded, and why: low recording volume, recording stopped while the sound was still on, background noise etc. And tried to see how to improve the recording process and not commit the same mistakes. Furthermore, we explained again how to use the recorders which the class found redundant; but the teacher, this is me, thought was important ;) And we were ready to go around the school and record some sounds… I mean… Sonic Snaps! for the Sonic Postcard exercise next session.

We did not upload our Sonic Snaps, yet, for we didn’t have time to sort them and choose the ones we will use. Please be patient. But we did took some new photos, as we thought all your class photos were much better than ours and we were jealous, hehe (or “jeje” as we write in Spain). Here they go, enjoy and see you soon.


Hello world! mySounds & soundScapes from Barcelona

Hello world!

Writing from Ramon Berenguer IV, secondary school at Santa Coloma, Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain). Excited to participate in this second pilot of TheCityRings :)

We had two workshop sessions already. On the first session we introduced the class to our own organization Sons de Barcelona, but also the other organizations we are collaborating with on TheCityRings project; Sound&Music, UK; and Aifoon, Belgium. Then we explained the goals of the project; and the exercises we were going to be doing during the workshop.

As we had to record our mySounds, from the objects the students brought, and since it is difficult to start thinking on how to get sounds from these objects, we played a couple videos like this one:

Afterwards we were ready to start demonstrating basic notions of sound recording; as mic sensitivity, input gain, clipping, etc. And once they got a grasp of the use of our recorders, they started to record their mySounds:

The second session we started listening to a selection of mySounds from Humphry David, Mobi and Wispelber; and also our own. Then we played a few example sound-compositions as this one by WIM for a Freesound contest:
And then we were ready to use the mySounds to do our own compositions or myScapes, as we like to call them ;) . Here you can see them previewing the sounds.

And here working with them; we used open-source and free software Audacity.

Here you have some of the resulting soundScapes

You can listen to the rest of themclicking here.

Let us know what you think !
See you next week ;)