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Sound Maps

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Maps are generally a visual phenomena and don’t lend themselves easily to non-visual media. There are some maps called sound maps available on the Internet that manage to combine sounds with maps, some more successfully than others.

Tony Round has produced a sound map of the Kitchener-Waterloo area of Ontario, Canada using Flash. The “map” is actually a collection of black and white air photos stitched together and is zoomable and pannable. Sounds are tied to a specific location and as the cursor is moved about the map, different sounds come to the foreground, providing the visitor with a sense of what the ambient sounds at a particular location are like.

SoundTransit is not so much a sound map as a collection of sounds that can be placed on a map. The user can select a departure and destination city, specifying the number of stopovers they would like, much how one would book a flight. The result is cobbled together, depending on the stopovers chosen, and provided to the user as an mp3 file. The iternary of the sound transit can also be mapped to a world map.

The Berlin SoundMap takes a slightly more artistic approach to its sound choices and is typical of sound maps in that clicking on the map in a specific location provides a new sound. NYSoundMap operates in a similar manner (click on the sound seeker image to view) but uses the format of a Google Maps mashup. The sounds available here are more intentional than ambient (e.g. carousel at Central Park). The map icons indicating available sounds are, however, difficult to see. The Puget Soundscape also provides a Google Mashup but it focuses on the underwater sounds of orcas.

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