City soundscapes

The World Soundscape Project
By R. Murray Schafer

The World Soundscape Project (WSP) was established as an educational and research group by R. Murray Schafer at Simon Fraser University during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It grew out of Schafer’s initial attempt to draw attention to the sonic environment through a course in noise pollution, as well as from his personal distaste for the more raucous aspects of Vancouver’s rapidly changing soundscape. This work resulted in two small educational booklets, The New Soundscape and The Book of Noise, plus a compendium of Canadian noise bylaws. However, the negative approach that noise pollution inevitably fosters suggested that a more positive approach had to be found, the first attempt being an extended essay by Schafer (in 1973) called ‘The Music of the Environment,’ in which he describes examples of acoustic design, good and bad, drawing largely on examples from literature.

The Book of Noise (1970)
By R. Murray Schafer


This is a portrait of your city. Listen to it closely. Perhaps you have never really listened before. It is a fascinating and exasperating concert of sounds. Listen…
Horns, sirens, motorcycles, trucks, jackhammers, power saws and construction machinery, helicopters, and jets. Any attentive listener will conclude that these are the dominant instruments of the orchestra. These sounds are all louder than the human voice and they are getting louder. It has been estimated that our technology is raising the sound-level of the average city by a decibel per year.

Click to access BookOfNoise.pdf

A few examples of not entirely succeeded sound maps

A creative one — Brussels Sound Map

An ongoing project — Montréal Sound Map

A dull one — Lisbon Sound Map

A lost one — NYSoundmap

Proposals for a new Lisbon Soundscape

Recording urban sound and stitched it to a city map is boring.

Why not map the silent spots still available in town?

Why not build a subjective sound map of Lisbon on top of a dynamic database?


  • Sounds from nature
    • wind
    • sea waves
    • rivers
    • trees
    • birds
    • insects
    • dogs
    • cats
    • cocks
    • monkeys
    • humans
    • etc.
  • Industrial noise
    • cars
    • planes
    • construction works
    • airports
    • train stations
    • busy streets
  • Electronic sounds
    • live concerts
    • computers at home
    • headphones
  • Outdoor sounds and noise
  • Indoor sounds and noise
  • Music