What is a Soundwalk?
The Soundwalk is an interactive, geo-locative audio tour. Anyone is free to join, and as you walk around the city, you hear sounds as you pass through the streets. What sounds? Anything goes, from tourist information to music, but for our first content we wanted to do something special, and invited two sound artists to give us their "sonic vision" of the city, through music and field recordings.
At its core, the Soundwalk is a smartphone app and a map of sounds. To explore a Soundwalk, you need headphones, and the phone must be equipped with GPS and optionally other location technologies. When you open a Soundwalk map, sounds will be played as if you are hearing them from a point, like surround sound, except the arena is the real world! That means, when you move around the sounds will appear to be coming from a particular location, and you can discover other sounds as you walk around.
We are a very small team of three passionately dedicated people based in Hanoi, creating interesting sonic projects, and we have already managed to raise core support for some areas of the project, but it’s not enough yet.
Last year, the project was unfunded, but we still made it happen. This year we’re doing it in two cities at opposite ends of the world, Copenhagen and Hanoi, and offering two sound artists from those cities a unique opportunity to create a work of art for a new medium. In those two cities, the walk will be completely free for participants. We need your support to make it happen.
What we need
To make our project happen, we need a minimum of $5000. This money goes towards:
Paying talented Vietnamese composer Lương Huệ Trinh for her work on the project. We believe it’s essential to pay artists fairly for their work.
Flights to Denmark and accommodation. We need a presence in Denmark to organise the Soundwalk there, and make sure things run smoothly. Let us know if you want to help out by volunteering for the walk there!
Administrative support for the project. A significant amount of our time is going into this project; our costs are really low, but we still need money to cover our expenses.
App development. We already have a small amount of money to pay for some development time, but this app will require hundreds of hours of work. We need to cover that time at a fair rate for our developer.
The remainder will go towards giving you your perks!
We have already obtained core funding for the project from the Danish Embassy in Vietnam’s Cultural Development and Exchange Fund which pays for:
Flights for our talented artists to Copenhagen and Denmark
Their accommodation and costs in both cities
- Some money towards software development
$8,000 – We're really excited and hoping to reach this first stretch goal where we will add a Soundwalk Market for people to browse, access and upload Soundwalks for any location in the world. That would open a whole new dimension to the project.
This will allow people arriving in a city to select a tour to their fancy. Imagine being able to select a Historical Landmarks tour spoken by an experienced tour guide, or a Traditional Music tour that gave a unique insight into the music of a place, or even a Relaxing Soundscape tour that provided a different way of looking at your surroundings.
$10,000+ – For each $5000 we get above the budget, we will add a city to our itinerary. That means we’ll come and visit your city, create a special Soundwalk and run the walk there with our devices. If you contribute more than $500 you can vote towards what that city will be.
What you get
Imagine, as the number of available Soundwalks develop, instead of "what do I want to listen to today?", you'll be wondering "where do I want to listen to today?".
That's where our perks come in. Depending on how much you contribute, you could land yourself with access to our app before the Soundwalk project runs. Then you can try it out for yourself!
Want to be an integral part of the project? Sponsor a sound – you can have your name next to a sound on one of our first Soundwalks!
What about something to listen to the Soundwalk on, but you don't have a suitable smartphone? We've got brand new Nokia XLs on offer!
And a pair of kick-ass GPS location-enabled headphones to listen to it on too? We've got those too.
What about if you want the ultimate – a Soundwalk in your city now? Well, if we make our stretch goals and you contribute enough, we'll add a city, and you can vote for it! Not only that, we'll invite you along for a pre-run of the Soundwalk so you can experience it before anyone else.
The Soundwalk project is unique. In Hanoi last year, this was the first time a project of its kind had happened in South-East Asia. We want to trump that this year with a global collaboration and more open accessibility. Everyone should be able to take part, at no cost to them.
You’ll be helping to make the Soundwalk 2014 happen. People like you will be able to go on the Soundwalk at no cost, and experience a magical audio tour in your own city.
Last year, the Hanoi Soundwalk ran for the first time in collaboration with the larger Locative Audio project which brought together soundwalks all over the world.
- Our goal is make the Soundwalk a global project, which anyone in any city in the world can experience. We want to visit more cities, create more Soundwalks, and allow anyone to upload a Soundwalk they’ve created.
- One great success of the 2013 Soundwalk was our work with visually-impaired children in Hanoi; by improving and polishing the software and content we hope to make it an experience widely accessible to the visually impaired community.
So we hear you say “What if I don’t live in Hanoi or Copenhagen? When is the Soundwalk coming to me?”. It will come to you in two ways.
First, the Soundwalk creation app we’ll develop for this project finally gives content creators and audience access to the full creative potential of the “soundwalk” concept. We are experienced researchers and developers in the field of computer sound and music, we have experimented in real life, with an audience, several existing software options, have measured their limitations, and are now dedicated to producing, in close collaboration with our two sound artists, a software that will truly transform the physical space into a canvas for sound creators to “paint” on and turn a place into an actual consistent work of sonic art.
New app features will include, alongside the basic functions:
non circular areas, so the sound can track along a street
beat-synchronization of groups of sounds for musical Soundwalks
conditional sequencing of sounds, enabling ‘story-telling’
precise control of spatialization options for individual sounds, with true 3D audio
non-location specific sounds, to enable ‘introductions’ or in-app notifications
partially randomized sounds or sound parameters
and much more -- we will work closely with both of our sound artists to develop new features based on their needs.
This way we’re giving you and others all the tools you need to create and share truly seamless and immersive Soundwalks in the places you care about.
And if you don’t quite feel like turning into a creator just yet, no worries: we also want to add to the player app a ReMap feature that will allow you to transpose any created Map from its original area onto your city or town, so you can experience any city without the hassle of taking a flight there, and enjoy the improbable encounter of sounds designed for that place with your daily environment.
Last year we were covered by a number of publications in Hanoi:
VTC10 Program - Nghe dạo Hà Nội: Hành trình khám phá lịch sử sống Hà Nội qua âm thanh. [Hanoi Soundwalk: An exploratory journey of Hanoi's history through sound]
“You can hear sounds like vehicles, the beating of woodblocks, which touch the soul; or the sounds of contemporary Hanoi like the train passing … from there you can imagine what Hanoi was like in the past"
VTC2 Program - Nghe dạo Hà Nội: Cơ hội độc đáo khám phá lịch sử thủ đô [Hanoi Soundwalk: A unique opportunity to experience the history of the capital]
"Nowadays Hanoi is modernising a lot; however there are familiar things like the 36 old streets from olden days, which nobody has a chance to discover, especially through sound…"
The Word - Surround Sound on the Hanoi Soundwalk
“…it isn’t just something to be listened to at home. It is meant to be heard, and experienced…”
Thể Thao Văn Hoá - Nghe dạo Hà Nội: Ôn sử bằng... âm thanh [Hanoi Soundwalk: Learn history through… sound]
"The feelings of the participants were stirred by some melancholic sentences: the sighs of beggars, the heart-rending lamentations of the famine of 1945 or the steps of the army resounding on the earth, the cheers of victory echoing from the skies."
'...This is an interesting new global trend! It combines many things and creates a diversified documentation…'
Tiền Phong - Nghe dạo Hà Nội: Qua âm thanh 'cảm' lịch sử [Hanoi Soundwalk: ‘Feel’ history through sound]
"I'm so happy to hear the peaceful sounds of old Hanoi through the the trains passing, the sound of the monochord, the cries of children, the sounds of glasses clinking together. When I hear the electric tram, I imagine them but I don't know if I looks as I imagined" Dương Bùi Khánh Linh, visually impaired student of Nguyễn Đình Chiểu school.
Đại Biểu Nhân Dân - Nghe dạo Hà Nội [Hanoi Soundwalk]
"This is not a chance just for Hanoians but also for expats who live in Hanoi to discover the city's history"
Hà Nội Mới - Nghe dạo Hà Nội: Câu chuyện lạ về âm thanh [Hanoi Soundwalk - A strange story in sound]
"From sounds of everyday life and archival sounds, the recordings aim to provoke things hidden from our busy contemporary lives"
The people involved
Lương Huệ Trinh - Vietnamese composer and sound artist
Trinh is the most promising of the new generation of Vietnamese artists working in sound. This year she’s been invited to Shanghai and Istanbul to perform and give lectures, and she’ll be working on installations and even a feature film. She’s worked on many projects with the broad-reaching experimental music organisation Đom Đóm in Hanoi, and regularly plays with experimental musicians who visit Hanoi.
Hans Sydow - Danish composer and sound artistHans is working on a number of major sound installations internationally. He often works in the field between poetry, sound and music, using language and concrete sound as a musical material. He received the three-year grant of the Danish Arts Foundation in 2007 for his work with music communication, and since 1996 he has worked with making history come alive through sonic retelling. He has created sonic design for museums around Denmark, and produced sound and music for installation, concert and theater in Denmark, Sweden, Germany and USA.
The Soundwalk Team
Josh Kopeček - Artistic Director and Project Facilitator. Managed the Soundwalk in 2013, and will facilitate the project again this year. Josh holds a PhD in Music from the University of Manchester, and his background is in experimental music and sound art as well as technology.
Mathias Rossignol - Creative Director and Software Programmer, worked on the 2013 Hanoi Soundwalk. Mathias holds a PhD in Computer Science and has worked in research centers in France and Vietnam, including the presitigious IRCAM (Paris). This year, he will work on rewriting the Soundwalk platform software.
Đinh Lê Vân - Project Facilitator, worked on the 2013 Hanoi Soundwalk as translator, administrative assistant, press attachée. Vân holds a Bachelor degree in Finance but has been working in international relations field in various aspects, including as an international coordinator at Vietnam National University now. She will facilitate the Soundwalk in Hanoi this year.
Risks & Challenges
This project needs your support. There are a number of challenges we’re going to face, and below we details them, and how we’re addressing them:
In Copenhagen we will need to find a place to designate and support for the walks. This could be a local institution or business that lends us some space to work. We’re already in contact with a number of people that could provide this, and our contingency is to run the Soundwalk without local support, which is feasible, if undesirable.
We need to create a new app that directly integrates support for geolocation. We’ve already started working on this and have a dedicated programmer on the task. There is the risk that the app will not be complete in time for the first walks, so we’re working to a strict timeline to get it finished.
We’ve got to set up a server that hosts the Soundwalks and integrate it with the app. There is the risk that the server costs and setup time will be more than we can manage. Last year we simply hosted the project files on cloud storage, which will be our fallback solution for this year.
Traffic safety and general safety on the walks is a concern, especially in Hanoi where one has to walk on the road. Last year we recruited volunteers to help guide people on the walks, and we’ll be doing the same this year, in both Copenhagen and Hanoi.
As with any project based upon new technology, a risk of technical failure is unavoidable. We will test the software thoroughly throughout development, both ourselves and with focus groups.
Other Ways You Can Help
What you can do to help us if you can’t contribute:
Please share our campaign on facebook and twitter, click the links above!
Please tell people about it, if you like the idea!
Are you in Copenhagen or Hanoi? We’ll need volunteers to help when we’re running the Soundwalks, so please get in contact.
July - Crowdfunding campaign
August - Preparation and development of the Soundwalk app
August - September - Shipment of the first batch of rewards
September - Soundwalk launches in Copenhagen!
October - Soundwalk in Hanoi
Will the Soundwalk app be available on iOS?
No. Currently we're only developing for the Android platform. We would very much like to develop an iOS version, so you can be assured it will be in the pipeline!
Massive thanks to:
Locative Audio, who supported the project in 2013 and brought together a massive 13 cities to the project. Looking forward to working with them again in 2015!
The Danish Embassy in Hanoi's Cultural Development Fund for their generous support for the project. We wouldn't be where we are now without them.
Danske Jazz Beat og Folkemusik Autorer (DJBFA) for providing a generous grant so that Hans Sydow can take part in the project.
Intelligent Headset for providing the incredible locative headphones that, once you try them, you won't want to go back to ordinary headphones.