sound festival 2020 review: Covid-19 Sound Map

Covid-19 SOUND MAP
A Talk by Professor Pete Stollery, Chair of the SOUND Festival

I begin by quoting the description of this event:

“Since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in March, Pete Stollery has been compiling a Google-Earth based Sound Map, designed to document changes in the soundscape which are occurring as a result of restrictions put in place by governments around the world. With over 190 sounds on the map from 18 countries to date, the project is now beginning to document the changes as we move out of lockdown (and sometimes back in again).”

The idea of place has always been paramount in the music of Pete Stollery. He has recently seen photos and films of once busy streets now empty of people and cars. Although he himself has been unable to get out that much, he has begun crowd sourcing sounds from around the world getting people to send him recordings to build up his new Sound Map. He also asked the people sending him recordings to write small passages describing their reactions to this new world.

It was as important to record things missing from the sounds as those you can hear. For instance, in towns, birdsong became more audible in the absence of traffic.

You can see Pete’s Sound Map on Google-Earth and access the sounds listed at the side of the map. These sound events are from right across the UK but also from the USA, Canada and India.

One of the first he demonstrated from his map was Barcelona Airport. You could hear the Tannoy announcements in Spanish, Catalan and English but then not much except the sounds of lorries and other motor traffic around the runways.

Birdsong in Huntly and Auchnagatt were listed as well as bees working on blossoms. There were the sounds of ‘clap for carers’ in Glasgow, including a sudden loud explosion of a firework. There were ships horns hooting in Aberdeen and most amazing of all, the ‘Belper moo’ when both adults and the shrill voices of children were mooing like cows.

I had to leave the talk at this point in order to finish the report on Exaudi.
I look forward one day to hearing the music that Pete has been able to create from his Sound Map. 

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