Discover the exciting world of electroacoustic music and learn to make music with sounds.



You will learn about soundwalks and to identify the differences between sounds heard in different locations. You will be encouraged to make a soundwalk and to record the sounds that you hear.

Why Soundwalks?

These are walks in which we listen out for all of the sounds which surround us.

In order to discover the soundscapes and sonic environments that surround us, we can go on soundwalks. These are planned walks that take you on a pathway past a variety of different sound sources. You follow the pathway and listen to the sounds around you (you can think of it like a tour, but instead of looking at buildings and paintings you are listening out for the sounds around you).

Soundwalks can introduce us to new sounds, and help us to train our listening skills. When people take part in their first soundwalk, they are often surprised by how many different sounds they can hear.

Where Do Soundwalks Take Place?

Soundwalks might take place within buildings or outside. They might either take us to a few locations that are very different, or to locations that contain a lot of similar sounds.

Soundwalks are most interesting when the journey of the soundwalk passes through a range of different sonic environments.

Soundwalk Instructions

What Do I Need for a Soundwalk?

  1. The first thing that you’ll need is a supervisor or a couple of friends who are willing to listen to sounds with you.
    • This will keep you safe and also give you someone to talk to about the sounds that you hear on your walk.
  2. The next thing that you’ll need is a route.
    • Perhaps look at a map and try to plan a journey that takes you through a few different areas (e.g. past houses, a factory, a river, near a road), but also passes through key locations (e.g. past the town centre with the clock bell, the railway station, the bus station, the shopping centre).
  3. Once you have your route planned then you’ll be ready to set off. Be sure to take any supplies with you that you might need (snacks are always a good idea) and be prepared for the weather.

Important Soundwalk Pointers

  • This should be fun.
  • Try to set personal listening challenges. For example:
    • Hunt out the most interesting sound.
    • Challenge your friends to identify the sounds that you are hearing. You could play a game like ‘Eye Spy’ but adapt the rules so that they work for sounds, ‘Ears Hear!’
  • Try to minimise the amount of talking while you’re on the soundwalk because you’ll miss out on hearing the sounds around you.
  • BUT, if you hear some really interesting sounds, do point them out to your friends and perhaps discuss them while you’re out and about.
  • There is no point being out with your friends and then ignoring them! It’s much more fun to make soundwalks a joint activity.

OPTIONAL – You could record the sounds that you hear on your walk using a mobile phone or a field recorder so that you can listen to them again at a later date.

What If I Can’t Go on a Soundwalk?

If, for whatever reason, you’re not able to go on a soundwalk, then why not take a listen to the Guided Listening Soundwalk: Woodland Soundwalk.


Soundwalks and Composition

Some composers use soundwalks to collect new ideas and inspirations, as well as to collect sound recordings which they can use in their pieces.

You might find some really great sounds around you that can be used within a piece, or the sounds you find might inspire a piece.

There are so many interesting sounds around us, and with the world being such a changing place, there are always new sounds to be found.


Activity One

Make a note of the sounds that you hear on a journey (perhaps on the way home or between classes).

  • What sounds do you hear?
  • Can you describe the PitchThe relative height of a sound, ranging from low to high.More infopitch, DurationLength in time. In our case for a sound, or a group of sounds.More infoduration and relative LoudnessThe relative volume of a sound, ranging from loud to quiet.More infoloudness of the sounds?
  • What about the TimbreThe colour or quality of a sound. A combination of all other properties that makes each sound unique. More infosound qualities?

[Download this CHECKLIST to help]

Activity Two

Copy your notes onto the computer and upload them for other people to see and compare.

Find the description of another soundwalk that someone else has made.

  • Can you imagine the sounds that they heard from the descriptions provided?
  • Did they hear anything that you heard?
  • What sounds were unique to either of you?
  • What is it in these sounds that allow you to recognise the location?

Consider the PitchThe relative height of a sound, ranging from low to high.More infopitch, DurationLength in time. In our case for a sound, or a group of sounds.More infoduration, PatternsA repeated element. Rhythms are a type of pattern.More infopatterns and TimbreThe colour or quality of a sound. A combination of all other properties that makes each sound unique. More infosound quality of the sounds.

Acoustic Ecology

The study of the relationship between individuals (and communities) and the sounds of the environment that surrounds them.

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Contextual listening

Listening for the purpose of identifying and gaining information about a sound’s source. It is the opposite of Musical Listening. (also known as causal listening).

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Environmental sound

Sounds that come from the environment, this term might most often be used to refer to natural sounds (wind rustling through the trees, birds tweeting, waves crashing on a beach, etc.) but could also refer to sounds from an urban, man-made environment (machinery, cars, engines, etc.) .

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Heightened listening

A focused and attentive approach to sounds in which the listener focuses upon the details of sounds, perhaps free from the source bonded associations.

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Sound source

This is the perceived cause of a sound.

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Sound Walk

A walk where the participant (or participants) concentrates on listening.

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