Archive for the ‘Presentations’ Category

Camille Turner’s Sonic Walks

Sonic walks site

sonic walks by Camille Turner map and animate stories of Canada’s early Black settlers so they can be experienced while wearing headphones and walking in the spaces where history unfolded.

Sounding routes and places

February 14, 2019 Leave a comment

In November 2018, I had a fireside conversation with Professor Laura Murray of Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario. You can listen to it here:

While walking

October 27, 2015 Leave a comment

While walking is a research project headed by Pohanna Pyne Feinberg, who lives currently in Montreal, and did a residency at the Dare Dare centre.

While Walking is a research project that explores walking as an artistic process and practice. How can walking contribute to the creative process? How can we understand walking as an art form? How does interaction with public space influence walking art practices? In what ways does the urban environment become a source of inspiration, distraction or perhaps intimidation? And, more specifically, what experiences do artists who are women encounter as they make art that involves walking the streets?

While Walking is an opportunity to learn from Montreal-based artists who walk as an aspect of their diverse art practices. Excerpts from recorded conversations with the artists will be shared in the format of an audio walk designed to enable the listener to reflect on the artists’ ideas while walking through the city.” While Walkingproject

Journées sonores canal de Lachine, 2000-2004

February 15, 2015 Leave a comment

Journées sonores canal de Lachine, 2000-2004

Andra McCartney, Concordia University

Le Project

<<Journées Sonores, canal de Lachine>>est un projet sonore de documentation sur les modifications du paysage sonore du canal Lachine au fur et à mesure des différentes étapes de son réaménagement. Comme tous les projets de rénovation urbaine, ce projet de plusieurs années et millions de dollars a de profonds effets sur le contenu sonore des abords du canal. L’enregistrement, pendant plusieurs années, des sons depuis la piste qui court le long du canal a permis la création d’images sonores condensées accompagnant ces changements urbains. Nous espérons qu’en les écoutant, ces sons vous sensibiliseront au lieu – en particulier vous qui vivez et travaillez aux abords du canal – et que vous serez amenés à penser votre rapport avec les sons de ce lieu. Contrairement aux représentations visuelles, les enregistrements de sons ne cadrent pas de scènes ou d’édifices particuliers, mais soulignent des rapports entre sources différentes, comme la circulation de voitures ou de bateaux, des cyclistes, des machines industrielles ou de construction et des piétons.

Les enregistrements sonores ont été juxtaposés à des illustrations du canal Lachine. Notre intention était de mettre en relief différents angles d’un environnement donné en fonction de sources et perspectives différentes.

Le document ci-attaché Lachine Canal francais était produit pour l’installation au Musée de Lachine. En commençant sur la page 24 on peut trouver une liste de notes qui s’agissent de l’environnement du  canal de Lachine. On peut les entendre sur youtube:

Journées sonores, canal de Lachine is a sound project which reflects on shifts in the soundscape of the Lachine canal as it changed with each phase of a revitalization project, as the canal re-opened as a recreation area in 2002, after many decades of dormancy while the St. Lawrence Seaway moved shipping and industrialization to another area on the south shore of the river. Like all urban renewal projects, this multi-year, multi-million dollar project has profound effects on the areas surrounding the canal. By recording sounds from the areas around the canal over several years, this project created condensed sonic images that followed these urban changes, as well as imaginary scenes from its past based on interviews with local residents. These sound recordings do not frame particular buildings or scenes, but point to relationships among different sources such as auto and boating traffic, cyclists, industrial/construction machines and pedestrians, and reveal the changing ambiences of these places over time.

In the final phase of this project, a multimedia installation was produced for display at the Musée de Lachine (2004), in a historical building adjacent to the canal. The show included an interactive computer installation, bringing together sounds recorded throughout several years. It also included more composed meditations on particular sites, along with photographic and drawn images and found objects. Comments from the project’s website were also included. Visitors to the gallery were encouraged in turn to comment on the installation and how it affected their perception of and attitude toward the sounds of the Canal. It was possible then to go outside and do a soundwalk immediately after experiencing the installation.

The booklet that is inserted here was produced for the Musée de Lachine installation. Journées sonores canal de Lachine.

Starting on page 24 is a list of notes that are associated with short pieces about the Lachine canal sound environment. These pieces can be viewed as a playlist from the andrasound channel on youtube:

The Wells Reserve soundwalk

The Sounds of Place at Wells Reserve

The Wells Reserve Soundwalk, July 2014

From July 16-19, 2014, I was fortunate to take part in an interdisciplinary workshop held in Maine, US, directed by Bryan Pijanowski of Purdue University, lead investigator of the Global Sustainable Soundscapes Network (Co-PI is Catherine Guastavino – McGill University, Canada). This research project is funded by the US National Science Foundation.

The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve is part of a larger network of such research centres. It is open to the public, with many educational walking trails. Within the reserve are grasslands, woodlands, freshwater wetlands, salt marshes and a long undeveloped sandy beach.

The soundwalk took place on the morning of July 17. We met initially at a gazebo near the reserve educational centre. Here, I introduced my soundwalk research and suggested some tips for listening while on the walk. We handed out small notebooks that Prof. Pijanowski had prepared, which included a list of sites where soundscape recordings had been made, keyed to the Wells Reserve map (sites such as a vernal pond, coastal tree, Laudholm beach, and others). Short observations made by the recording crew were also included (“Coastal tree: most diverse site with birds and insects”). Suggestions for soundscape notes were provided for listeners (“Sense of place: sounds that define this place / remind or connect to you, family, community / symbolic sounds”). After the introduction, people split up into smaller groups of one to four people, and began their walks through the site. Later in the day, some people met with me at a session, while others contributed their observations in individual conversations.

My soundwalk took me through a grassland area, rich in insect sounds in the middle of the day, through a cool woodland with distant surf towards the north. As the surf became louder, I passed a pond that attracted shorebirds, and arrived at a construction site, with the sounds of saws and moving of construction materials. Large many-bedroomed houses were being built right up to the boundary of the Wells reserve, and along Laudholm beach beyond drifted the sounds of families playing in the surf.

At this point, I reflected on the educational signs that I had seen along the way, that pointed out important notes about vegetation and wildlife habitat. I thought that perhaps information could also be included on the effects of tourist and recreational development on the estuarine area.

In the session later that day, the importance of recognizing disciplinary listening was mentioned. A bird biologist said that, since we had discussed this in the introductory session, she was more alert to disciplinary tendencies, that normally she would want to focus on types of birds and their interactions. Being aware of this tendency allowed her to consciously open up to other kinds of listening. Both the soundwalk notebook and the opportunity for followup discussion provided clearings where these other kinds of listening could be explored in productive conversation.

Balade Montreal Equinox Soundwalk 21 Mar 2014

Balade Montreal Equinox Soundwalk 21-03-2014

Rencontre: Métro St. Laurent 17:00 meet outside Metro

Balade commence 17:30 soundwalk begins.

Urban Soundwalks at Biennale des bewegten Bildes, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

January 7, 2014 2 comments

Une version française de ce texte se trouve ici

In late October 2013, Andra McCartney was invited to Frankfurt, Germany for the B3 Film Festival to lead soundwalks, a composition workshop and to give a lecture about soundwalks and expanded narration. She was invited by Prof. Sabine Breitsameter, one of the curators of the festival and professor for sound & media culture at Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences.

Eröffnung Bernhard Kracke

I (Philipp Boss, 20 years old, student of Prof. Breitsameter) assisted Andra with the planning and performance of the soundwalks and the workshop. We met a few days before the festival and I showed Andra my choice of possible soundwalk routes through the picturesque historic city centre of Frankfurt, where the festival took place.

Roemer - Panorama

The festival centre was near to the old market place “Roemer”, which is surrounded by old, half-timbered buildings with many enclosures and atriums. These “isolated” places formed a nice acoustic contrast with the busy streets and the riverside, which were also located nearby the festival centre. The place formed altogether an interesting environment for soundwalking experiences and I was very excited about the following days.

Festival Centre

The first festival day started for us with a children ́s soundwalk in the morning.
Andra introduced the 9-10 year old children to the topic of soundwalking and then we led the group of 18 children over the market place, over the busy street and to the riverside. The children were really attracted by my field recorder & headphones, so I gave some of them my headphones to hear the environmental sounds through the microphones. The reactions were really interesting. One child said: “I didn ́t know that one makes so much noise just by walking!” Others were surprised by the general loudness and amount of different sounds of the city soundscape through the microphone. They could not imagine how our brain filters “unimportant” sounds and that some of the sounds were only hearable for us when they were amplified through the field recorder. Back in the festival centre, Andra started a discussion by asking the children what they heard and which sounds were pleasant or unpleasant for them. Most of them categorized traffic noise and car signals as unpleasant sounds and water sounds, birds and the blowing wind as pleasant. The sound of church bells caused multiple opinions. Some of them find them to be pleasant and some of them found these sounds disturbing, repetitive or boring. It was also very interesting to hear how the children developed their own soundscape when they came into the quiet conference room, playing clapping games and vocalizing.

Track 1 – Kids

In the afternoon, Andra gave a lecture about soundwalks and expanded narration.
You can have a look on her milestones from this lecture in the blog entry from October, 29th. After the lecture, the composition workshop took place. Andra did a short soundwalk with the participants as an introduction, while I prepared the workshop room. The participants were a group of 15 students from film and sound production background. When they came back from the walk, Andra started discussing with them about the experiences they had had and about the general method of soundwalking.
The aim of the workshop was to compose a small soundpiece/soundscape from the sounds in the festival environment. I gave out field recorders to the workshop participants and then they had one hour to collect some sounds in the festival area. I also took part in this activity and focussed on the sounds of a huge building lot near the festival centre.

The sounds of metal, heavy construction workers and machines fascinated me and I started to record from various positions and distances.

Track 2 – Building Lot

After this short recording session, the participants presented some unprocessed sounds that grabbed their attention. I presented this recording from the inside of an empty trash bin next to the building lot.

Track 3 – Trash Bin Unprocessed

Then we started to process our sounds with our own laptops & DAWs. Andra showed us an example of a noisy, high-pitched shrieking street car sound, that she transformed into a really nice harmonic sound, just by pitching and layering that same sound. I also pitched my trash bin sample down and tried to make a deep drone as a basis for my final soundpiece.

Track 4 – Trash Bin Processed

We composed and arranged our soundpieces in one hour. After that we presented and discussed our final pieces. I ended up in composing something really abstract. I wanted to point out interesting frequencies in the recordings of the building lot, which had a really broad frequency spectrum. I tried to create an “essence” of the building lot sounds and wanted to show how much different frequencies are heard in every single sound.

Track 4 – Final Piece

In the next two days we led three more soundwalks around the festival environment. The participants were students, professors, pensioners, and people from the workshop. Most of them came from a film or sound background or were just interested in media art. In the post-walk discussions nearly everyone was positively surprised about soundwalking. Many participants found the soundwalks relaxing and meditative, but there were also people who found it stressful due to the traffic sounds and the building lot. An interesting statement came from a woman who lives in the city center. She said she had never heard her city like this before. Before the soundwalk experience she tried to avoid concentrating on her hearing when she was walking through the city, but on the soundwalk her ears suddenly started to open up and she discovered a complete new soundscape of the city she has been living in for years. It seemed to me that the soundwalk was a really spiritual, mind opening experience for her.

Urban Soundwalk

Another woman asked Andra why the soundwalk has to be a walk, because she can concentrate more on the soundscape when she is standing on one point and only listens. Andra answered that it is absolutely okay to stop during soundwalks and just intensively hear for a moment, but soundwalking is also about exploring different sound environments and pointing out the differences between them, many of the participants were for example fascinated by the room and loudness differences between the market place or the building lot and the isolated atriums and enclosures.

Altogether, the work with Andra McCartney was very inspiring for me, and I am very thankful that I got the opportunity to take part and even contribute to her soundwalk and research work. These three days really influenced my urban hearing and brought me further in my studies and artistic work.

Marches sonores à la Biennale des bewegten Bildes, Francfort-sur-le-Main, Allemagne

January 7, 2014 1 comment

An English version of this entry can be found here

En octobre dernier, Andra McCartney s’est rendue à Francfort à l’occasion du Festival du Film B3, durant lequel elle a organisé des marches sonores, un atelier de composition, ainsi qu’une présentation sur la marche sonore. Dr. McCartney avait été invitée par Sabine Breitsameter, curatrice pour le festival et professeure en culture sonore et médiatique à l’Université Darmstadt des Sciences Appliquées.

Eröffnung Bernhard Kracke

J’ai (Philip Boss, 20 ans, étudiant de Prof. Breitsameter) assisté Dr. McCartney dans la préparation et la tenue des marches sonores et de l’atelier. Nous nous sommes d’abord rencontrés quelques jours avant le festival et j’ai proposé quelques routes potentielles traversant le centre historique de Francfort, où se tenait le Festival.

Le cœur du Festival était situé près du vieux marché « Roemer », entouré par de vieux édifices à colombage comprenant de nombreux recoins et atriums. Ces lieux « isolés » créaient un agréable contraste avec la rue passant et le bord de la rivière, aussi à proximité du site du Festival. Ce lieu formait un tout sonore particulièrement intéressant pour une marche sonore, ce qui me rendait très fébrile à l’approche des marches planifiées avec Dr. McCartney.

La première journée du festival a débuté avec une marche sonore matinale avec un groupe d’enfants d’environ 9 à 10 ans. Andra a d’abord introduit les enfants à la pratique de la marche sonore, puis nous avons dirigé le groupe à travers les rues bruyantes et les berges de la rivière. Les enfants étant particulièrement intrigués par mon enregistreur audio et mes écouteurs, j’en ai profité pour leur faire écouter tour à tour les sons tels que captés par mon microphone. Leurs réactions furent très intéressantes. Un enfant déclara : « je ne savais pas qu’on faisait autant de bruit en marchant! » D’autres étaient surpris du niveau sonore ambiant et du grand nombre de sons urbains captés par le microphone. Ils arrivaient difficilement à concevoir la façon dont notre cerveau filtre les bruits ambiants, ceux-ci devenant audibles seulement lorsqu’amplifiés par l’enregistreur. De retour à la place du festival, Andra a démarré la discussion en demandant aux enfants de nommer les sons qu’ils avaient entendus, et de décrire si ces sons étaient plaisants ou non. La plupart des enfants ont qualifié les bruits des voitures et de la circulation de déplaisants, contrairement aux sons de l’eau, des oiseaux et du vent. Les sons des cloches des églises ont provoqué des réaction multiples. Alors que certains les ont appréciés, d’autres les ont trouvé inintéressants, ennuyants ou même dérangeants. Il fut trèa intéressant de noter comment les enfants ont créé leur propre environnement sonore à leur arrivée dans la salle de conférence, en tapant des mains et en faisant des jeux de vocalisation.

Piste 1 : Les enfants

En après-midi, Andra a donné une présentation sur la marche sonore et la narration. Vous retrouverez les principaux points de cette présentations dans le texte du 29 octobre 2013 dernier. Après la présentation, Andra a fait une courte marche sonore avec les membres de l’audience, pendant que je préparais la salle pour l’atelier de création. Le groupe était constitué d’environ 15 étudiants en production sonore et cinéma. À leur retour, Andra s’est d’abord attardée à la marche en les questionnant sur leur expérience et en discutant de la technique de la marche sonore.

L’objectif de l’atelier était de composer une courte pièce sonore basée sur les sons du festival. J’ai distribué aux participants des  enregistreurs audio, puis ils sont partis à la collecte de son pendant environ une heure. J’ai moi aussi pris par à la séance d’enregistrement, en me concentrant sur les sons émanant d’un grand édifice situé près du centre du festival.  Les différents sons métalliques émis par les travaux de construction et les nombreuses machines  m’ont particulièrement intrigué; je les ai donc captés à partir de plusieurs perspectives et à des distances variées.

Piste 2 : L’édifice en en construction

Après cette courte session d’enregistrement, les participants ont tour à tour présenté quelques extraits qui avaient capté leur attention. J’ai présenté l’enregistrement ci-dessous, capté à l’intérieur d’un contenant à déchets vide situé tout près de l’édifice en construction.

Piste 3 : Conteneur à déchet, version originale

Puis, nous avons débuté la métamorphose de nos sons à l’aide d’ordinateurs portables et de logiciels de manipulation sonore. Andra nous a fait entendre un extrait sonore dans lequel elle a transformé le cri aigu d’un tramway en une belle harmonie, simplement en modifiant la tonalité du son et en juxtaposant plusieurs copies du même son. J’ai appliqué la même procédure sur mon extrait sonore en tentant de produire un bourdonnement comme point de départ pour ma composition finale

Piste 4 : Conteneur à déchet, modifié

Nous avons travaillé sur nos compositions pendant une heure, pour ensuite les présenter et discuter des différentes procédures employées. Ma pièce est devenue plutôt abstraite. J’ai tenté de mettre l’emphase sur certaines fréquences spécifiques pour chaque son provenant de l’édifice, révélant ainsi « l’essence » de cet environnement sonore .

Piste 5 : Composition finale

Durant les deux jours qui ont suivi, nous avons dirigé trois autres marches sonores sur le site du festival. Les groupes étaient composés d’étudiants, de professeurs, de retraités, ainsi que quelques personnes qui avaient pris part à l’atelier. La plupart provenaient des domaines du son ou du cinéma, ou bien étaient intéressés par l’art sonore. Lors des discussions d’après-marche, presque tous exprimaient une opinion positive par rapport à leur expérience. Alors que plusieurs ont qualifié la marche sonore de relaxante et méditative, d’autres ont malgré tout ressenti un certain stress causé par les bruits de circulation et de construction. Une participante qui habite le centre-ville a affirmé n’avoir jamais entendu sa ville ainsi. Alors que dans le passé elle tentait d’ignorer les sons de la ville pendant qu’elle s’y déplaçait; la marche lui a permis de redécouvrir l’environnement sonore d’un lieu qu’elle croyait connaître depuis des années. Selon moi, cette marche fut pour elle une expérience spirituelle et révélatrice.

Urban Soundwalk

Une autre participante a demandé à Andra pourquoi cette pratique se faisait en marchant, plutôt que d’être stationnaire et directement concentré sur l’expérience d’écoute. Andra a répondu qu’il était tout à fait acceptable d’arrêter à tout instant de la marche pour une écoute plus intensive, mais que la marche sonore est aussi conçue pour découvrir une multiplicité d’environnements sonores et analyser leurs différentes caractéristiques. Par exemple, plusieurs participants ont été fascinés par les contraste sonores entre la place du marché, le chantier de construction ainsi que les atriums et les espaces plus refermés.

Au final, travailler avec Andra McCartney fut une expérience très inspirante, et je suis reconnaissant d’avoir eu l’opportunité de contribuer et participer à ces marches et activités sonores. Ces trois jours ont grandement influencé mon écoute urbaine et ont contribué à ma démarche artistique et académique.

Listening to traffic with guts and antennae

December 1, 2013 1 comment

“Listening to traffic with guts and antennae” is a paper that I presented at the symposium Resonant Bodies: Landscapes of Acoustic Tension, held at the International Cultural Institute in Berlin, Germany in June 2013, and organized by Zeynep Bulut and Brandon LaBelle. It accompanies the piece Spectral Traffic, which can be found on the andrasound channel of youtube.


“Listening to traffic with guts and antennae” est le titre d’une communication donnée dans le cadre du symposium “Resonant Bodies: Landscape of Acoustic Tension” à l’International Cultural Institute de Berlin en juin 2013. Ce symposium était organisé par Zeynep Bulut et Brandon LaBelle. Cette présentation est accompagnée par la pièce Spectral Traffic, qu’on peut retrouver sur ma châine youTube.

Newfoundland Soundwalk

November 30, 2013 2 comments

Une version française de ce texte se trouve ici

In September 2013, Andra McCartney was invited to be keynote presenter at the Expanding Ecomusicologies symposium at the Centre for Music, Media and Place at Memorial University in St. John’s Newfoundland. She led a soundwalk, consisting of two movements: first, a twenty-minute group walk along the campus’ grass, gravel and marshy paths; and second, a thirty-minute walk where listeners were encouraged to move through a market (and surrounding area) in smaller clusters. Both parts of the soundwalk were followed by a discussion.

As Andra discussed with the group after the second part of the walk, this particular method for soundwalking was developed while preparing for another walk at a market in Hamilton, ON. In the lead-up to the latter, Andra received a letter from one of the market’s vendors addressing how he perceived the practice of soundwalking to be bourgeois, and that the participants would disrupt the regular activities of the market by distracting patrons. Taking the vendor seriously, Andra informed listeners to break into smaller groups once they reached the market. Moving through the Hamilton market in this dispersed way enabled the participants to maintain a certain level of anonymity during the soundwalk, and gave each small group a different experience of soundwalking, which led to animated exchanges about different listening experiences, in the discussion at the end.

During discussions in Newfoundland, many comments centred on the changing group and social dynamics between the two distinct parts of the walk. One participant mentioned that in the larger group he felt that the perceptual field was more limited because the higher density of people seemed to make the space smaller. When the walkers split into smaller groupings, one listener felt overwhelmed by the cacophony of the market and was unable to concentrate in an environment with so many sounds vying for attention.

As is common in post-soundwalk discussions, some participants mentioned the prominent presence and rhythms of footsteps, and how the sounds of footsteps alter depending on the textures of the ground. There was also a lot of laughter and questions coming from the participants. One listener asked whether it might be more suitable to use the term “listening walk,” rather than soundwalk, given that listening is the primary activity of the walk; to what extent we create our own soundscape while soundwalking; and whether intent varies between practitioners. Andra answered that while some scholars and practitioners prefer to use the term “listening walk” (eg. Greg Wagstaff), she prefers soundwalk because the term is more widely known and opens up more possibilities beyond listening, especially in relation to the interaction of the senses and the reality of sound production while walking, with members of the group inevitably producing sound as they walk. Lastly, as Andra points out, intentions vary considerably depending on the practitioner, with some producing sound intentionally in response to the environment.

Towards the end of the discussion, participants mentioned some of the ways that soundwalking functions as a relaxing, almost meditative practice. As Andra points out, social workers and psychologists use walks in therapeutic situations, in part because walking calms people, but also because young people who might be somewhat inhibited in regular therapeutic contexts often open up a little more while walking through familiar neighbourhoods and places. Someone added that this approach is also used with dementia patients as a way to continuously (re)train the senses.

Finally, the post-walk discussion closed out with a question from one of the listeners who asked: “how much of what’s going on in the rest of your life impacts that fifteen minutes of walking and how you listen?” For example, he discusses how he was particularly sensitive to car sounds throughout the walk because he is having car troubles. Andra relates this to what she calls “listening standpoints”—your background (e.g., woman, immigrant, academic), and all of the things that inform experience—and how these various standpoints affect how one listens (even though we might think we are listening with open ears while soundwalking). Andra goes on to suggest that it is good for listeners to be aware of their standpoints and that they can then attempt to try to listen in other ways as well, if possible.

Andra’s last comments revolve around a sonic experience of a visual art object: a sculpture on the campus that has round holes that are just head-size. Another small group of participants saw Andra playing with the sculpture in the distance during the soundwalk and decided to follow suit. Hildegard Westerkamp played with a metal sculpture in the Queen Elizabeth Park soundwalk that she first did in the 1970s. Furthermore, one of the World Soundscape Project’s walks of the Louvre involved going around to different paintings and thinking about them sonically (e.g., looking at a painting and imagining the sound). Imaginative listening is something that happens regularly on soundwalks, on top of or intermixed with the soundscape you are actually hearing while walking and listening.

Some lingering questions that were raised in the listening discussion: how might political listening play into the Newfoundland soundwalk experience? How does privilege operate as a listening standpoint? And, is a quiet soundscape necessarily a privileged environment? What types of situations do you feel comfortable in while remaining silent; where do you feel comfortable soundwalking? How might soundwalking operate in an unstable political setting, as a protest or political gesture?