Young coders share the sounds of Scarborough with the world

Posted on 27.02.2019

UPDATED: 15/3/19

Invisible Dust is working with sound artist Rob Mackay, and the ECOde youth group, aged between 8 and 13, capturing sounds of the sea, bird song in local parks and underwater noises. The sounds are collected using special hydrophones – microphones that record sound in water using computer programmes such as Scratch and Sonic Pi.

Scarborough Library has installed a solar-powered microphone and streambox on the roof to capture the sounds of Scarborough as part of the project. The noises familiar to the town, such as seagulls and easterly winds from the sea, are being shared in real-time. Listen in and join people around the world to listen to the soundscape of Scarborough which will available on the international Locus Sonus Project Soundmap.

The Locus Sonus Project Soundmap showcases sounds from all over the world, from whale breeding grounds near Hawaii, the jungle in Costa Rica and the hum of traffic in Camberwell. The Scarborough Library roof sounds join these international sounds which are then shared live via this online interactive map.

Invisible Dust is committed to supporting communities to become ambassadors for climate change. ‘ECOde’ aims to encourage its participants to start taking responsibility and to begin influencing change. It works with young people to allow them to respond imaginatively and creatively to environmental issues, whilst developing their computer coding skills.

Rob Mackay, artist, said:

“The ‘ECOde’ project is a great idea for getting the kids to become more aware of their environment and changes in it through coding and technology. Working with sound and listening to the sounds of Scarborough has allowed them to gain a wider awareness of the environment of the area, simply by listening to the soundscape.

We’ve gone out on two field recording trips where the young people have recorded contrasting sounds in different parts of Scarborough near to the library including waves on the shore, traffic, and underwater recordings in the duck pond on Valley Road. We’ve also recorded ‘hidden’ sounds around us such as sonifying electromagnetic interference.”

Once the sounds were collected the young people used the computers at Scarborough Library to layer the sounds to create their own individual soundscapes of Scarborough. These soundscapes have been uploaded on to Google Maps to make a soundmap of the area. Explore the map here.

Dorcas Taylor, Education Curator at Invisible Dust said:

“We hope that the sounds captured using the microphone and streambox will make people think about the environment and our impact on it. In addition to being part of a global project, the activity is helping the children learn valuable life skills.

Working with a digital artist has enabled the young people to think more imaginatively about nature and become aware of the threats our natural world is facing. Using coding has allowed them to develop creative and problem-solving skills which are important to them as individuals, their future careers and also for the planet, as we face the wider threat of climate change.”

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