Friday 7 March 2008

Soundscapes from Soundtransit

Sound Transit is a really wonderful formulation of an idea. It's not just a huge collection of Mp3 sound files from all over the world, but the sounds have been tagged by country and described and a visitor to the site can take a sound journey around the world.

You just choose your country of origin, your destination and how many stops you want to make. You then get offered a choice of itineraries with stops at various destinations and descriptions of what you will hear there. You choose the one you want and then the site edits together the individual sounds to create a unique sound journey for you. You can then download your mp3 sound journey, listen to it online or send it to a friend.
  • To try this go to the Book a Transit part of the site. It's just like booking a flight on an airline website (except that it's free and a lot more user friendly!!)
Alternatively you can search the database of individual files by country, keyword or creator and just download the sounds you want. All the sounds are licensed under creative commons 2.0 so you can save and reuse them according to the limitations defined by that license.
How to use this with students
  • You can use the sounds for visualisations. Get the students to listen with closed eyes then write about what they heard. Or they can create a story from what they heard.
  • You could collect four or five clips for students to listen to and then get them to create a chapter / episode of a story around each one.
  • You could use them for grammar practice ( e.g. present continuous "Someone is speaking." etc.)
  • You could get the students to use the site to plan a holiday with four or five destinations then use the descriptions in the itinerary to say what they 'will / are going to' do at each place. They can then choose the best holiday. For past tense practice they can tell other students what the did on their holiday while the students listen to the sounds.
  • For vocabulary practice they could just listen and say the things they hear. This will probably involve a lot of guessing, so you could extend this for practice of modals of probability (e.g. It might be someone eating, It can't be in Argentina. That must be a car door etc.)
  • You could use this site to give students inspiration to collect their own sounds and to tell the rest of the class about them. They could even upload them to the site and share them.
  • They could create their own sound journeys ( e.g. Going to school, what they did at the weekend etc.)
  • You could play 'Guess the sound' as a warmer with student and award points to each student or team.
  • You could ask students to find their favourite sounds or talk about what the sounds remind them of. (e.g. This is one of my favourites. It's the call to prayer. This one was recorded in Delhi, but it reminds me of when I lived in Cairo. I went out to Giza one evening and listened as thousands of mosques from all over Cairo erupted in to a grand symphony of sound.)
    Listen here
  • You can use the sounds to create atmosphere for story telling activities or student plays
  • You can play the John Cage game and just get the students to sit silently and listen to the sounds around them in the school classroom ( for 4 mins and 33 seconds) then talk about what they heard. You could also tell them about the famous John Cage composition 4'33" afterwards and ask them what they think of it.
  • You can play "Where am I?" by playing them one of the sounds and asking them to guess where you are. Try this one. I'm in a cafe in Moscow getting some coffee
What I liked about this site
  • It's a wonderful free resource with a huge collection of sounds.
  • It can really get students thinking about the sound environment they live in.
  • I love the idea that the sounds are tagged to countries and that students can book a sound journey.
  • The creative commons license
What I wasn't so sure about
  • Some of the sound journeys are quite long if you add a lot of stops
  • Some of the sounds are quite unusual and could require quite a high level of language to describe, but I think this just means that you have to choose the activity that you use carefully and be selective.
Anyway. This is a site that I really enjoyed and I'm now determined to go out and start recording some of my own sound adventures. As I'm based in Morocco I thought I would finish this posting with the sounds of the Marrakech market recorded by Reza Tahami.

To download any of the sounds you just need to right click and then click 'Save As..'



1 comment:

Susanh said...

I love this site and can see that for drama it will act as a great stimulus for role plays and improvisations!
I also enjoyed listening to the sounds of the cities I've lived in! Complete nostalgia........
Your sign off sound included! Ahhhhhh.......
Susan Hillyard

My eBooks and Lesson Plans