What’s the project about?

What is the “sound” of your workplace? Your home town? Your favourite place to holiday? What memories does that sound trigger? How does it make you feel? How do these sounds match those that other people associate with these places? This project is bringing together research in several disciplines to find collective sounds of places, trying to make some sense of these questions.

We can look at this as an optimisation problem. Trying to find the combination of sounds that most closely match those that a group of people associate with a given place. We are using Evolutionary Algorithms (a nice explainer can be found here) to combine short sound recordings into the sounds for places, using feedback from real people via the web to drive the optimisation process.

At the end, we should have some collective sounds for a few selected places around Scotland. the exciting part is that we really have no idea yet what these will be like!

We’re especially looking for people in Aberdeen and Stirling to participate, starting around August this year and running for a couple of months from then. If you’d like to be involved, please get in touch.

Launch meeting

Our team assembled at the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 13 January to kick off the project. We discussed the collection of sound samples over the coming months, design of the platform and experiments, and what we hope to learn from the work. We also considered possible long-term projects that might follow on.

Sandy Brownlee, Jamie Lawson, Szu-Han Wan, Stella Chan (Suk-Jun Kim was unable to join us; Pete Stollery joined by Skype)