The City Rings

Part: Spain

Snap! Sounds from Palau Solità i Plegamans (Barcelona)

Look at them, with their recorders and headphones, running around, asking people to perform actions so they can record them. They are like us, but smaller! ;P



So we dedicated a full session for participants to learn how the recorders work and practice their new acquired knowledge around the school. This was a preparation for the task of taking the recorders home, and go on recording sounds from their daily life.



And they have collected quite some interesting sounds indeed. Below you can hear a few of them, and don’t forget to visit our Freesound SonicSnaps pack for the rest of them:


Oh! we did not remove , from the sounds, the voices of the participants when they announce what they are going to record. Of course we will not use those voices during the Sonic Postcard composition, but we found it could be interesting for you to hear some tiny Spanish and Catalan voices at work.






Can Cladellas Soundscape

And so we received the mysounds from Essen, and went to listen and talk about them. We talked about their physical characteristics, as loudness or lenght; about some of their other, more complex traits, as if they were pleasant, annoying or subtle; and we also closed our eyes and tried to imagine what kind of scenes or sensations these sounds produced on us. You will find the participants answers at the comments section, Essen ;)


And after this, we moved onto an introduction to Audacity and its tools -they always love the envelope tool. Our plan was to do a selection of sounds and attempt to do a small composition -the soundscape- all while looking at possible compositional strategies. The strategies we saw were, repetition, crescendo and decrescendo (fadein, fadeout), multilayering, and paying attention at the intensity curves of the composition as if it was a movie.



We cut some sounds and alternated the pieces to create an effect, that later became rhytmic; we used what we believed to be some sort of marble as a transition, and finished it with a a sonic burst that the class really enjoyed, and got us applauding :D Needless to say, our time went quick, but we think we came up with a well-thought, tiny composition. Listen and enjoy!



their sounds ; Palau Solità i Plegamans (Barcelona)

And so we started January’s 2013 edition of TCR :)


First of all I want to say this school, Can Cladellas, is at our hometown! both Laura and I, Jaume grew up in this town called Palau Solità i Plegamans. This makes the whole situation a bit more special for us.


And we started by presenting the project to the participants, in particular the pictures and bell-sounds of the other schools. The bell sound is always a very interesting way to perceive differences and similarities between schools, their locations, history and way of doing.


Since we did not have a lot of time we went straight into checking our objects -beloved objects that the participants were asked to bring from home- and here you can see an example of the variety, a horse named “xocolata” (catalan for chocolate) and a fork that was engraved with the name of its owner, right when she was born.



We started the sonic exploration of our objects collectively as an attempt to help each other go further the hit/scratch basic sounds that we usually come up when we confront the sonic exploration of an object for the first time.




Then we moved to individual exploration of the object, where each participant was asked to come up with at least 5 or 6 sounds (our strategy to, again, attempt for them to avoice hit/scratch sounds… this works sometimes ). And then we went onto recording the sounds one by one.


Listen to some of them below and to the rest visiting our January 2013 Mysounds pack at Freesound, also below. Thanks for stopping by!




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!


Soundscape time!


Our second session was quite exciting as we had just recieved a whole bunch of new MySounds from our friends in Belgium and France. At first we were busy for a while trying to guess where those misterious sounds were coming from. That wasn’t easy at all! At least we agreed that most of them were produced by rubbing or hitting an object. There was some shaking there too. We could also guess if the object was made from metal, clothes, paper, etc. Then we started thinking about some words that could describe each sound properly. At first we focused on describing what kind of emotions the sound provoked, namely, if that felt nice, or disturbing, or made us get goosebumps, and so on. We even found a “nervous” sound. Then we tried to link the sound to a more complex scenario, like a part of a movie or a story. Amongst other things we imagined a funny scene, Western-like, with a cowboy on a three legged horse. Crazy.


Well, that’s when composition time arrived. The kids were already familiar with Audacity (our usual audio editing software), because Flora, their music teacher, uses it for her classes. So we went over the basics and started working with the sounds we got from the french and belgian schools. We worked together, talking about whether we should use a particular sound or not, and what to do with it or where to put it in the timeline. We enjoyed using “crescendo and decrescendo” (something they learned from their music class too).


We regret not having more time to dig deeper into the compositional process; with one hour, and focusing on the process, time flies! In any case I think we successfully accomplished an interesting composition, with a totally cool ending ;)



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.