The Pondby: Ryan

The Pond (click to view, then click the red dot to hear)

This is Houston’s “Central Park”, but nearly twice the size by comparison.  I have been visiting the place since I was a child and recall imagining  at one point that all of the city’s life must emanate from it.  Once I found a piece of a meteor here.  I could easily suspend my disbelief back then and play like I was in another world, but was still delightfully grounded by the familiar sounds of nearby trains, roaring traffic, buzzing power lines and airplanes.  There used to be a lookout tower over this pond, which is just a deck now,  where I still like to sit and listen to the sounds of nature dance with those of the urban landscape.  The majority of the trees have died and fallen and many more are sick due to the last few years of drought.  It looks and sounds different, but there is still a lot to enjoy while we wait in hope that the newly planted saplings will take root and join the forest.

Motion-a pulse of a placeby: Mike

This work looks at the pulse of a city through it’s sounds of movement. Toronto, Canada has been in an ever evolving debate about gridlock, public transportation, bicycles and how to move a populace. Motion uses the sounds of movement both above and below ground to demonstrate the pulse of this city.

House Party in East Brian

this submission for Challenge 1 – The Pulse – features the music of local Toronto band MiMi Cry at a house party filled with young faces and big dreams. I attempted to capture the innocence and eagerness of youth I experienced on that evening.

Howling through Treesby: C. M.

A siren howls by

on the street below

obscured by trees

inviting the dog on the hillside

obscured by trees

to chime in adding his howl

both before and after

the crescendo


L.A. Callingby: Peric


Los Angeles, midnight…

After a long hot day the city quiets down.

Over the sounds of the never-ending stream of cars going places, a lone bird calls out into the night.


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Los Angeles Sunset

Amsterdam, a pervasive pulse in motionby: Michael

As an inhabitant of Amsterdam you normally do not hear it anymore but if you listen carefully there is one ubiquitous and pervasive sound in Amsterdam. It comes from the nearly 500,000 cyclists who are on the road in the city every day.

An extremely dynamic background noise made by a mechanical horde of creaking, squeaking, buzzing and sometimes ringing vehicles, moving together in a swarming motion.


Challenge#1: the computer is a state of mindby: Agnieszka

Warsaw is ambitious. We want to overthrow our past; of being passive, outdated, unable. So we grab onto our keyboards and touch panels and rush. From work to work. It’s a one way show. Armies of keyboards surround me and you and get internalised, careful there.

Ezan: Istanbul’s Pulse, Five Times a Dayby: Benjamin

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No one can visit the metropolis of Istanbul without hearing the sound of the ezan, the meticulously timed calls to prayers that emanate from the towering minarets of mosques that dot the city. The calls, which are more like musical chants and songs, occur five times a day, summoning the faithful to prayer according to Islamic law and practice. The exact times of prayer change every day based on the position of the sun, but the five calls (Sabah, Öğle, İkindi, Akşam, and Yatsı) are all calculated, so that at any moment you can be walking in some parts of the city and hear four or five callers going off at once, just slightly offset from one another. I’m a bit confused over the exact timing of the morning call, as it is broken down into two important times, İmsak and Güneş; it is written in some places that there are supposed to be six calls, but I’ve only ever heard five. The morning call is the longest, and some say the spookiest sounding. In any case, hearing them is a sometimes surreal experience – almost like the city itself is singing, right on cue. It’s so regular that you start to forget it’s even happening every day.

I recorded an evening call to prayer from the local neighborhood mosque, Nafiz Baba Camii. You can hear the call going out through the neighborhood, yet also hear life in the city go on: cars and buses on the road, students eating at a cafe, a saleswoman peddling flowers, friends greeting each other on the sidewalk. It’s an interesting contrast between a call for pause and reflection and the hustle and bustle of a modern city – in a way a contrast between a traditional past and the fast-paced future.


Osaka in my Kitchenby: Paul

I often find the unique noises of my city in the strangest of places.


Water ranby: Clare

The city has been drenched in rain the last few days. It’s not an uncommon thing here. We huddle under umbrellas and hoods, where the sound of raindrops rapping at fabric are a constant.

Slight streams and rivers appear on sidewalks, calling to mind the underground waterways that used to exist under all this concrete before the arrival of settlers. In certain parts of the city, you can still hear water rush from under the man hole covers. Vancouver, rain city, Saltwater City.

This work is a collage of four separate sound pieces made on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Musqueam people.

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Sparkle Spotsby: Ryan


The Pulse of the city is its people. Their individual and collective activity. To express this idea, I installed sparkle dust in various spots across Toronto. Each sparkle spot represents one’s contribution to The Pulse.



Taking the pulseby: Richard

The traffic circulates (in the rain today) but although it runs through Lewes, it is not part of it. It is people that make a place, and everywhere seems to serve coffee. The heart of Lewes, though, is making things, and the bandsaw of the guitar makers is a distinctive sound. Beneath it all runs the pulse, composed of all the sounds together.

Bologna, taking city noise to the next levelby: Simonluca


In Bologna, many people use the bicycle as means of transportation. But as in many italian cities, there are no cycling lanes and the city amministration doesn’t really care about the needs of cyclists. Every day cyclists try to survive cars, taxis, motor-scooters and buses. And that is without speaking of the the underhand traps of a neglected pavement and the suicidal tendencies of pedestrians and pigeons.

Despite it all, the bicycle remains the ideal means of transportation to dive in the city soundscape: it is light, silent, versatile. You can go everywhere with it. Many layers of sounds offer themselves to the ear of the cyclist: the whistling of the wind, the tinkling of the mechanical parts of the bike, the rumble of engines, the voices of the pedestrians, the noise of construction sites and the humming of passing airplanes.

Here is my journey through the soundscape of Bologna in search of it musical meaning, the pulse and the expressiveness of its layers. I will attempt to translate the ensemble of loud and rather annoying city noises, to which we have become almost deaf, into an explicit form. From its chaos will rise before you a meaning.


A beast breathingby: Alex

I commute from one end of the city to the other and back, five days a week. In the winter, I feel like most of the time I spend outdoors in Chicago is confined to a bus or train. So, when I thought about what the sound of the city’s pulse was, the sound of the CTA was what I was listening to.

There’s a rhythm in the rumble and roaring of the trains, punctuated by metal-on-metal screeching like sirens. Sometimes the sound puts a little terror in me if the tracks are high over my head–loud, crushing, world-filling, could kill. But it’s an easy-paced city. People aren’t in much of a rush to get from one place to another. Often the El seems to take its time, too, as it makes its turns and pulls into stations. And why not? Chicago’s pulse is a beast that has it together, steady and sure, rarely stampeding, mostly galloping. It’s got the pretty legs of a horse, but it lumbers like a bison, with a bison’s kind face.

the things that move us (Chicago)by: Jennifer

cta rail public transportation chicagoMy pulse is set to the city’s already, each day traveling to the heart of the city for work, for money, to get up, to do something, to move around. Every one seems dead set on getting off their feet. We save our precious energy for thinking, doing, pandering, producing… We save our time by getting around on all the things that move us without us having to move. What are they?

Trains, elevators, escalators, buses, cars… My pulse is set to the Red Line CTA train every morning. It’s no accident that transportation ways are often described in medical language as arteries. I stand underground and wait in this natural/unnatural habitat, a tunnel beneath the city. I use my cell phone for this task, embodying my existence as a commuter.

This is it right now, the heart beat of Chicago, moving people around like red blood cells, from an underground tunnel to nine stories above the city. The sounds are heard as if overheard, if a phone call had ended and we both forgot to hang up.

I walk because I have to. I take the elevator up nine floors. I ring the doorbell. I’m in. Let work begin.