This blog has French and English content and may not be available in both languages.
Ce blogue présente du contenu rédigé en anglais et en français. Certains billets peuvent ne pas être disponibles dans les deux langues.

Early birds! Stay tuned for a dawn-time soundwalk with Sounds in the City

by Mariana Mejia

You may have visited the Montreal Botanical Gardens before, but have you ever visited before sunrise? Our upcoming soundwalk, a collaboration with the ‘Dawn Stroll’ event organized by the Gardens staff, will take participants off the marked trails and away from the stimulus of their cellphones to place themselves in a guided auditory experience like no other.

Starting at 4 am, participants will witness the auditory spectacle that welcomes a new day, produced by the various species that call the Botanical Gardens home. This soundwalk offers a heightened sonic perception that prompts active listening of one’s immediate surroundings as the lighting changes from night to day. It will also allow the participants to ponder how much the urban sounds beyond the Gardens affect their experience and define the sonic environment of a natural space nested within the city.

The soundwalk will be led by ornithologist Jean-Philippe Gagnon and Dr. Catherine Guastavino, head of the Sounds in the City project.

Listen below for a sample of the sounds heard in the Botanical Gardens shortly after sunrise.


Visit here for more information about the soundwalk:

photography by Luis Mejia

Sounds in the City featured at the Montreal Innovation Summit/C2 conference

Sounds in the City was nominated by McGill and Quartier de l’Innovation as an exemplar of cross-sectorial collaboration and was featured at the Montreal Innovation Summit. The summit was held as part of the annual C2 Montreal conference that brings together more than 6,500 decision makers and creative minds from the fields of Commerce and Creativity. On Wednesday, May 23, two members of our research team (Dr. Catherine Guastavino, principal investigator, and Christine Kerrigan, multidisciplinary designer) presented our collaborative research involving academic researchers, private and public sector partners and members of the community to consider the role of sound in urban interventions. The discussion and activities centered around best practices for collaboration, how to measure social impact, and in the creation of a white paper on these topics.

Photos of the events are available on the Summit’s photo album (Facebook)

Press coverage (in French):

  • “Un sommet réussi” – article in l’Actualité UQAM (May 24, 2018)
  • Innovation sociale: “On fait tous partie de la solution” – article in Infopresse (May 24, 2018)
  • “Sommet de Montréal sur l’innovation” – Brève économique avec René Vezina, Gravel le matin, Radio-Canada (May 24, 2018 at 7:14 a.m.)
  • “Favoriser l’émergence de nouvelles idées” – article in Journal Metro, (May 25, 2018)

Sounds in the City on Électrons Libres, Télé-Québec

by Christine Kerrigan

On Friday, November 17, Télé Québec aired a TV spot on their show Électrons Libres featuring the research and work of the Sounds in the City team at McGill University. Dr. Catherine Guastavino, principal investigator for the team, walked Télé-Québec commentator, Rabi Rammal, through some recent research the team has been conducting for a newly designed pedestrian zone on Roy Street in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood of Montréal. The interview then migrated to the team’s lab facilities at McGill’s Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Music, Media and Technology (CIRMMT), where Guastavino demonstrated some of the team’s capabilities for recreating urban sound environments using sound simulation technologies. The paragraphs that follow provide a short summary of some of the key themes and topics discussed during the interview.

Continue reading →

Urban noise pollution, a real danger for health – Romain Dumoulin on Radio Canada

Sounds in the City member, Romain Dumoulin, explains that the urban sound environment is more than just the sum of its noises. As a former noise inspector at the city, he knows exactly where the bulk of complaints have come from; but responding to complaints can’t help protect us from all of the sounds that are bad for us, nor can complaints help us understand the sounds that are appreciated. He also discusses how the field of psychoacoustics (or the perception of hearing) can have implications for the layout of our cities and the regulations that guide them. (only available in French)

Sounds in the City in L’Actualité

Check out this fascinating long-form article on the price of silence in Quebec by Catherine Dubé at L’Áctualité. Titled, “Is Silence a Luxury? We must go further and further and pay more and more to have a little bit of peace,” the author explores the sonic ramifications of massive increases in population and private automobile usage in the province. She covers the various strategies that residents, urban, suburban, and rural alike, use to find their relief and also what the government has done to help. There is, however, apparently a price to pay for being poor – Montreal’s noisiest neighborhoods are also its poorest, for example.

The piece arrives at the work of Sounds in the City, describing our psychoacoustic approach, our work with the city, and the importance of integrated planning and acoustics decisions:  (in French only, but the Google Translation is OK)

Sounds in the City participates in the 85th ACFAS Conference

by Christopher Trudeau

In the context of the 85th ACFAS conference (Association francophone pour le savoir) held at McGill University, our research group presented Sounds in the City: toward an acoustic urban design on May 10, 2017, during the Science-me event held for the general public.

More than just an introduction to the concept of the urban soundscape, this was an opportunity to show a wider audience two ongoing projects.

Continue reading →

New Cities Foundation

Breakout session during the "Animating Pedestrian Zones in the Sonic Dimension" event in Montreal

Head over to Perspectives at the New Cities Foundation to see:

Sounds in the City: Are you listening to the world around you?

a summary of our November, 2016 workshop written by team members Daniel Steele and Christine Kerrigan.

Special thanks to all of our workshop organizers: Catherine Guastavino (principal investigator, McGill University), Romain Dumoulin (acoustician and demo lead), Kaisa Tikkanen (Goethe-Institut Montréal), Marthe Boucher (City of Montréal).

We wish to thank the City of Montréal, Goethe-Institut Montréal, IPLAI, CIRMMT, McGill Innovation Week, and McGill’s Dean of Arts for their support in our workshop.