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The aim of a soundscape is to recreate a time, event, space or other stimuli through audio. The way one soundscape enthusiast, ­[1] Ryan C Murphy (2003), puts it is “a soundscape is to your ears, what a landscape is to your eyes”. Since the very first sound was recorded by [2] the phonautogram, created by Thomas Edison in 1877, sound recordings have been used for a range of purposes. Soundscapes are one of the more modern uses of recorded sounds.

For the “Lost Places” Design Studio Assignment, I decided to use my first experiences in finding a venue by the name of Sister Bella’s in the Melbourne CBD.  I chose this place for two specific reasons. Firstly, I became extremely lost the first time I tried to find the venue due to rather ‘skewed’ directions. Although I was very lost in unfamiliar backstreets and alleys, the experience wasn’t all negative. The feelings and emotions of being lost, although disconcerting, were also positive because it was a spontaneous experience that led to growth and self-understanding.  Not only did I find a few other interesting venues along the way, but I also enjoyed the unusual feelings associated with being lost such as isolation and disorientation.

The second reason I chose Sister Bella’s as my inspiration was because it’s a place where people seem to go to forget the day’s events and ‘lose’ themselves, often through excessive drinking. The nostalgic feel to the place is emphasised through the clinking of glasses and the odd opening of an old door, that requires oiling. Sitting in this building, day or night is the perfect place to unwind and be absorbed in your own thoughts and ideas.

I also decided that the soundscape would be focussed around one central character; an old man who is drinking at the venue, trying to drink away his miseries. Therefore the soundscape will have a multifaceted approach because it will be exhibiting imitations of the sounds at Sister Bella’s as well as how a central person interprets the sounds. The piece will have a quiet, intimate and thought-provoked façade, emphasised by a waltz-like tempo.

My main influence for this piece came through listening to [3] Damien Rice’s “Cheers Darlin’” which is a highly dramatic piece of music which also employs the use of unusual percussion such as the clinking of glasses and striking of various surfaces. Although the song has a very structured approach (verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus), the overall sound of the song clearly paints a picture of the environment in which is being lyrically and acoustically described. Another main influence is the common [4] “¾ time” used in waltz, which has [4] “an accent on the first beat of every measure.”

After exploring the initial ideas behind the soundscape through WordPress blog posts, I had to begin collecting sounds to use for the piece. Criteria for the assignment stated that at least one sound had be gathered from the website and at least one recorded. Others could also be gained from other mediums as well.  My recorded sound featured background noise at a small bar, which I used as a loop throughout the piece. The piece I found from the Pool website is of an accordion playing a short section of music. I chose to include the accordion because I believe it sets the tone for the piece and helps to visualise the emotions felt by the central character. The rest of the recordings were found on [5]  This site allows visitors to download other people’s recordings under a [6] Creative Commons license. The ABC Pool website has also adopted the Creative Commons licensing, in which there are certain extents to which visitors to the website can use the work that is posted. For example, with the [6] Attribution license, visitors can use the work in any way they wish, as long as they mention where they originally found the ‘borrowed’ works.

I decided to use Protools to put together this piece because I am familiar with its functions and because it’s perfect for simply putting together numerous pieces of music. I first decided that in order for the soundscape to be effective and to reflect a bar scene, the background noise of people talking and laughing would have to be fairly clear. Therefore this is what I first started work on. Next, I used the bar related sounds I had collected such as clinking glasses and ice falling into a glass to accentuate what else was happening in the venue. Finally, I placed the [7] accordion loop from the ABC Pool Website on repeat and adjusted the volume on this loop depending on the volume of other loops throughout the piece. This meant when quieter sounds were played in the piece, they would still be clearly heard.

Overall, I’m very satisfied with this piece and it quite clearly imitates my initial ideas for the project, as recorded on my WordPress blog. When listening to the piece, I can imagine the sense of nostalgia that is felt when sitting in the Sister Bella venue. I also believe the accordion loop adds to the thought provoking environment that is apparent in Sister Bella. If I had more time to complete this assignment, I would have liked to have made the piece longer and to build up to a certain point during the soundscape. I would have also liked to have collected a wider range of sounds and ideas and to have experimented with these ideas further. I also found learning about Creative Commons licensing to be very interesting and insightful and I’ll be sure to use it in future if I am involved in any collaborative work.


  1. “How to make a great soundscape”

2. “The First Phonograph”

3. Damien Rice “Cheers Darlin’”

4. “The History of the waltz”

5. “Free”

6.             “Creative Commons”

7. “Accordian Loop” (ABC Pool)

Where tracks came from: –> ice into glass –> turning page


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