The City Rings

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Taking a walk through sound images

We imagined walking through the different layers of landscape. Like a sliced onion, with our school in the centre we explored the idea of a composition through the out layers of school yard, railway and highway, orchards and vineyards and mountains and lake. It’s tricky to truly capture just the sounds of nature with building work, aeroplanes and cars.

We had fun today listening to sounds from Gent and Athens. The school bell from Athens reminded us of an athletics stadium or swimming pool and the respective bells brought to mind ‘shock’ and ‘fire’.
We used various drawing techniques to capture the shape of the sounds and enjoyed comparing these with the ‘sound spine’ from Freesound (one student coined the phrase early in the year). Have a look at some of our line drawings. Like students from Gent, imagining and comparing and making stories from them. One dutch girl enjoyed seeing sound titles in her own language and helped the rest of the class to pronounce the objects.

We are looking forward to listening to more tomorrow and crafting some SoundScapes. We love how TCR project gives us new ideas and ways at thinking about sound and the world around us.


Can you take a photograph without images?

Grade 1 went on a sound walk today through the different layers of landscape that make Etoy. Searching for sounds of nature, the class made field recordings to capture natural moments of bird song, the wind in the trees, the lapping of the water on the shore by the lake and much more.

Connecting with the art of listening through technology students connected with their environment in a new way.
Tomorrow we will listen back to the recordings to see if they evoke memories like photographs.


mySounds Gems World Academy-Etoy Switzerland

Hi All,
We had an active first day and our crowd sourcing of sounds from the remaining students who are in school had been very successful. We take a further sound walk tomorrow to gather more natural sounds that reflect the location of our school. Like the layers of a composition we are between train tracks and highway, and they are between vineyards, some industry and lake Geneva.
We have a lots of mySounds: here is a selection:


The rest are available in our pack:
mySounds GWAEtoy May 2014

We found the source of the school bell too!


Gems World Academy-Etoy, Switzerland

Hello to Gent and Athens. We are an new international school located between Lausanne and Geneva with some beautiful views of Lake Geneva and the high mountains of the alps.
We opened in September last year and are steadily growing our communities. It’s our second time collaborating on TCR project. We are mixing things up a little here as we have students heading to the mountains on camp over the next two weeks. Compositions will be created by second grade students working with our digital photography club and radio club. They have been challenged with taking photographs with sound. To support them we are crowd sourcing sounds and field recordings from all members of our community. Introducing the project last week, students were asked the following questions: Can you watch a film without sound? Can you watch a film without images? Can you have music without music?
As a provocation we watched the City Rings Trailer without sound. Using sound objects around the school, students were encouraged to play a live accompaniment to TCR film trailer.

The two soundscapes capture the students playing sound objects ranging from an electric pencil sharpener, water from a tap, coins and blinds. We found the film focused our attention in locating a arrange of sounds and qualities of sounds.
We are located between a railway line and highway and have already noticed how difficult it is to hear let alone capture sounds of nature, so we will take a sound walk this week.

We journey into the basement to locate the source of the school bell tomorrow and record the playground.

We will listen to your bell tomorrow!


Sound Art Installation features at Gems World Academy-Etoy, Switzerland

An exploration of sound from field recordings to collaborative compositions, the City Rings project led to students designing a sound art installation. A symphony of sound- developed as an interactive performance where participants were encouraged to explore the sonic qualities of sound objects introduced into the performance.
Here’s a recording of the performance:

In a darkened room, beginning in silence the performance began with the roll of a single marble. Marbles continued to roll and connect as the space was gradually filled with remixed compositions, played through iPads located against walls throughout the space.
The zen like quality of sounds created an ambience of peace signifying the need for space and balance in our increasingly digital world whilst at the same time being dependent on it.

Capture a feel of the installation in this montage of the the recent arts festival:


Postcards from Etoy, Switzerland

We thought we couldn’t do it, found time, borrowed time, and completed our SonicPostcards.
Here you go.
We are planning our sound installation for the coming weeks.
Our sound tell a story of a growing school, captured learning, sonic snapshots from our beginnings in Switzerland. We have only know each other for 3 months, through sound we’ve met other cities, lives and people. In our final session we discovered new perspectives towards art. The end of the project is just the beginning.


Crafting our compositions

5th grades in Etoy began crafting their compositions. Using mixed media they began playing with ideas:

Structure: Make sure your piece has clear sections

Unity: Have  something that unites your piece so it feels whole, this could be through repetition or a continuous loop.

Variety: Make some small changes to keep similar sections

Contrast: Have sections with a big change to keep people interested

Texture: Use thick and thin textures. Texture refers to layers. The more layers the thicker the composition.

We begin transferring these ideas to our editing software; GarageBand soon.


Visualising SoundScapes from De Regenboog

Today we listened to the wonderful compositions of our MySounds. We imagined the textures, colours and stories the different layers of the compositions and as a reflection created a visual representation of the tracks. Great job ‘De Regenboog’! We had a choice of media from sugar paper and pastels to using Sketch Up Pro and Doodle Buddy on iPad. Following this we explained our thinking, adding these reflections to SoundCloud. The many layers of texture in the collaboration is an art form itself. We went on to discuss whether sound is art sharing our opinions which were all in agreement – yes because ‘it’s sort of an expression of feelings and emotions which we can all connect with’.

Enjoy our visual SoundScapes and reflections and thank you to De Regenboog for inspiring us.






















And here we are creating our visualisations.

We’ll be using this idea to compose our SonicPostcards


Sonic Snaps as snow snaps Switzerland


Snow descended on Etoy, silencing the air. Session 3 began with inspiration from ‘Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers’

We quickly warmed up experimenting with the use of insulation or windscreens for our recorders. By breathing into each others ears we discussed what we felt and heard, deciding it was a good idea to cushion the recorders against any unwanted drafts. The sound hunt then began. Luckily as part of their inquiries at the moment the classroom is part woodworking workshop, so we had power tools, tape measures, hammers etc to play with. We recorded many sounds, venturing out of the classroom, listening… We quickly adopted signals for recording to ensure the rest of the class were aware and most importantly silent. Our sound technician, Juan Felipe joined us today and guided us to noting each sound as we were recording so we could easily identify the sound afterwards. Due to differing recording devices we were using some tracks were continuous recordings and others single (it’s worth noting for future reference, whilst recording in iPad directly to GarageBand is a seamless transition, there are multiple steps to get these tracks on to Freesound. It goes like this. Sound capture directly to GarageBand-upload to Soundcloud- download to desktop- upload to Audacity-download to desktop as .wav and upload to Freesound) We like mixing it up though!

Here’s a selection of sounds interspersed with image snapshots.

The rest can be found here:


We were so engrossed in our immediate environment we never got outside.










Weaving a story in our minds

We can see the hills and mountains again and there’s snow! We began the session today by watching a short piece about a Foley Artist, Ellen Heuer: This was the starting point for a discussion about how we naturally create images when listening to sounds or even make assumptions. We wanted to listen to the sounds of De Regenboog school without knowing what the source was, and use this as the beginning of forming a story or pictures in our imagination.

We enjoyed reading all about how our partner school, listened to the sonic qualities of their mySounds which gave us lots of ideas. This is the beauty of collaboration where ideas can grow and develop.
Headphones on, we listened carefully to each of the mySounds choosing the ones which evoked strong images and feelings- look for our comments.
These selections were dragged into GarageBand and compositions created. As we were listening to these we shared; how they made us feel, any stories which flowed into our minds or childhood memories (for the adults) that were triggered.
Enjoy our compositions below.