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Global Soundmaps Bursting Out All Over

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It seems like every time I turn around, there’s a new global sound mapping site popping up in my browser!  If you want to take a listen to the everyday sounds of this aural adventure called Planet Earth, here are three quite varied options–a click on each image below will take you to the site.  All of these sites accept any sound file you care to upload.

Radio Aporee

By far the most ambitious and creative of the bunch, this site is beautiful, if a bit opaque to navigate.  Clicking into the site will land you smack-dab into a fairly close up view of a city streetscape, with a few red dots denoting sound files uploaded from particular locations. Zoom out and you’ll see this neighborhood shrink down, while the red dots proliferate across the country, continent, and planet.  Click on any dot to listen in.  One of the cooler features is soundwalks, in which the “red dot soundfiles” fade out and in as you wander down the street!

Save Our Sounds BBC project


The newcomer to the block, this BBC soundmapping project just launched in June, and is rapidly gathering sound files from around the world.  In addition to the sound map, the main site features radio features from the concurrent series on BBC radio and a Desperately Seeking Sounds feature, in which visitors ask the global recording community to help them find sounds that they miss from their past or need for a current project.  Despite the big sponsor, this site’s sounds load more sluggishly than many other grassroots soundmaps out there, but there are some nice clips being sent in.

A map interface to track sounds submitted via AudioBoo, an iPhone app that lets users record sounds on their iPhone and upload it for the world to share.  Not surprisingly, this format leads to more random sounds (parties and moments that may not really “deserve” global attention) and more than a few oral ramblings on new projects or, whatever…

All of the maps end up being somewhat Euro/NorthAmerica-centric (especially Uboo), but each has some reach into Asia, Africa, and South America.  The sounds tend toward urban ambiences (that’s where the people with recording equipment do tend to live!), with a few natural settings as well.

Western Soundscape Project Tops 1000 Recordings

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The University of Utah’s free digital archive of recordings from wild habitats in the American West has grown to over a thousand items. “Our premise is that the sounds of the west are unique and that they deserve a closer listen,” says research librarian Jeff Rice. “As our lives become more urbanized, we are losing our connection to the natural world and its rich sounds. There are whole generations of kids growing up that have never heard coyotes, or even frogs, in the wild. This is our heritage and we want to help restore some of that connection.” By focusing on the sounds of the western U.S., the archive emphasizes the connection between sound and place—something that is not only culturally valuable, but also biologically crucial, say scientists. Scientists recognize that even the same species of animals can sound different based on their geography. Birds, especially, can sing in dialects unique to their areas“Frequent recordings in many areas help create a database that will give insight into how the ‘singing culture’ of birds changes over time and space,” says Dr. Franz Goller, a biologist at the University of Utah. “Efforts like the Western Soundscape Archive are therefore very important in documenting acoustic behavior.” Source: Innovations Report, 3/18/09 [READ ARTICLE]
Western Soundscape Project Website: [MAIN SITE] [VIDEO INTRODUCTION]