How does the world sound ?

The « Cartophonies » website explores the contemporary sound experience. Its aim is to contribute to the current knowledge of living environments. It offers sound fragments that have been situated, dated, commented, and classified from various researches about cities and existing architectures. It explores the diversity of hearing experiences as well as common sonic actions and productions.

The website gives access to the archive of site-specific recordings developed since 1979 by the CRESSON laboratory of Grenoble’s School of Architecture.

The French word « cartophonie » is similar to « cartographie » and can be translated in English as « sound map ». We used it for the title of our research completed in October 2008: « Cartophonie sensible d’une ville nouvelle – Exploration du patrimoine sonore de l’Isle d’Abeau » CRESSON – ENSAG, Chelkoff (Dir.), Jean-Luc Bardyn (sound recorder), Olivia Germon (archiving) and Sylvie Laroche (mapping).

Compared to other « sound maps » found on the web, this one differentiates itself in making sound heard while presenting the contextual analyses made in various researches and catalogues. These analyses address constructed forms, social practices, acoustic characteristics and sound effects.

First started in Grenoble and in the Rhône-Alpes area, the sound collection has been extended to a national and a international scale. Far from being exhaustive or definitive, it can still be expanded by future contributions. Uploading instructions will help the browser-listener-producer to upload sound samples, in accordance with the website specifications. Uploads will be subject to selection by the webmaster.

Thus, everyone can travel virtually according to their desires, and can listen to and compare places, understand sound effects, take auditory measurements of some spaces and built devices, evaluate the impact of social practices or particular events, or simply remember or imagine a situation from their hearing, or bring a sound contribution or a comment.

Partial and biased, these sound fragments are valuable only in relation to the purpose of the soundman who recorded them because of their uniqueness and specific context, whether it be to explore and understand the city of yesterday or the city of tomorrow. Their value is also attributed the attention someone can give them on this site, but also in everyday life.

Happy sound browsing: write your keyword, your city, a date, an object, an effect, and perhaps you will find some unexpected sound traces.

Grégoire Chelkoff (ENSAG professor, in charge of the « cartophonies » project)

Sylvie Laroche (Architect, in charge of the technical project)

Françoise Acquier (Archivist, CRESSON)

Julien Moisans, (technician, CRESSON)