Queen’s University researchers are calling on the people of Belfast to help develop a new map of the city based on its sounds.
The Belfast Sound Map is an online resource where people can upload sound recordings from their favourite parts of the city for others to hear. It is part of the Sounds of the City project involving community groups in north and east Belfast, and led by a team from the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen’s School of Creative Arts.
Professor Pedro Rebelo is leading the project. 'We are all familiar with Belfast’s landscape, from well-known sites like Cavehill, to iconic structures such as the Harland and Wolff cranes, and new landmarks like Titanic Belfast. We know how our city looks, but do we really pay attention to how it sounds?
'The Belfast Sound Map is a constantly evolving collection of sound recordings that characterise the city and its communities. We are encouraging everyone in Belfast to record the everyday sounds of the city and upload them to the map.
'Choose a location – it may be a place that means something special to you, or somewhere that forms part of your daily routine – like your kitchen at breakfast time or your journey to work. There is no need for fancy technology, most mobile phones have sound recorders and will allow you to upload your recording directly to the map at www.belfastsoundmap.org.
The Belfast Sound Map forms part of the Sounds of the City exhibition, which is currently running at the MAC in Belfast. The exhibition takes people on a journey of the sounds of Belfast’s past and present, from its industrial history to the modern family home.
The sound installations featured in the exhibition were developed by the SARC team at Queen’s, involving PhD students Rui Chaves, Matilde Meireles and Aonghus McEvoy, along with members of Dee Street Community Centre in East Belfast and Tar Isteach in North Belfast.
'Sounds can be very powerful in terms of their association with events in people’s lives,' continued Rebelo. 'They can evoke strong memories and emotions. Older members of the community told us that one of their most powerful sound memories was that of horns from the shipyard, factories and mills across Belfast calling tens of thousands of people to work each morning.
'Similarly, the sound of the footsteps of thousands of shipyard workers returning home through the streets of Belfast evokes strong memories of the city’s industrial heritage. This has also been recreated for the exhibition, and as you walk through the MAC, your own footsteps become part of that iconic aspect of Belfast’s identity.
'Community engagement played a central role in the Sounds of the City project. Without community participation, the exhibition and the development of the Belfast Sound Map would not be possible.”
The Belfast Sound Map is available online at www.belfastsoundmap.org. The Sounds of the City exhibition will run at the MAC until June 28. For more information visit www.soundsofthecity.info.