Electronic Chime Translates City Movement Into Music [Video]

Electronic Chime Translates City Movement Into Music [Video]

Student's thesis interprets urban environments through music.

Daniela Walker
  • 20 june 2013

Self-described creative technologist and curious urbanist, Marc de Pape, a Masters student at OCAD University (the Ontario College of Art & Design) captured the sounds of city for his thesis, but not in the way you might expect. Instead of recording the sounds that naturally occur in cities, the horn honking and people shuffling, de Pape set out to capture the space between the noise, the movement of Toronto, by creating an electronic wind chime.


His project, entitled The Chime: Scoring the City, is a essentially a sensor jukebox. Equipped with 18 sensors, they pick up the fluctuations in the passing environment and plays sounds with each measure of movement. From a gust of wind, to a passing car, The Chime will emit rich musical compositions with sounds of xylophones, piano and strings to reflect the ebbs and flows of the city.

The thesis was inspired by George Simmel’s notion of the blasé, where people are’ indifferent towards the difference between things’. De Pape set about to find the difference. Living in a city, urbanites are constantly confronted by a variety of stimuli: visual, auditory, tactile, and yet they often ignore it. States de Pape:

I set out to explore the relationship between sensing technology and the routines of everyday life. I feel the city is all too commonly represented by abstract systems and maps, a tendency driven by a reductionist pursuit of efficiency, and one which ignores the idiosyncrasies occurring on street level. This is the noise in the system, the richness that ultimately renders cities generative landscapes. I thus set out to bring attention to the noise by building a musical instrument inspired by wind chimes.

De Pape placed his electronic instrument in various streets of Toronto to find the sounds of the city. You can listen to a couple of his compositions below and see the rest on his website.

Marc de Pape


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