Way back in 1977, when R Murray Schafer published The Soundscape, he did so with the intent of making humans more aware of the sonic aspect of their everyday environments. The sweeping goal of this work was to propose “the tuning of the world” – i.e. an awareness of the noises that we create, and a conscious effort to make these sounds pleasurable to the ear.
Well, we’ve come a long way since 1977, and one recent project, in particular, seems to me to fit right in with Schafer’s grandiose ideas: Make The City Sound Better.
This project was a collaboration between headphone manufacturers AIAIAI and London-based sound-artist Yuri Suzuki - a man who has created many amazing sound projects, some of which you can explore on his website.
The ultimate creation of the Make the City Sound Better project was The Sound Taxi.
Essentially they took a typical London black cab and outfitted it with dozens of speakers built right into the body panels of the vehicle, a microphone up top to record the sounds of passing traffic, and headphone access for passengers. Sounds from outside the cab were recorded and mixed with Suzuki’s software application, creating unique musical compositions in real-time, which were then broadcast back to the streets. Listeners could also enjoy the compositions by venturing inside the cab to don headphones.
Check out the video below to learn about the project from its creators:
The Make The City Sound Better website also features a playlist of musical tracks which you can download to enjoy during your daily commute through the city, as well as a photo album of nifty cab snapshots.