Canon Barnett Takeover Festival: Sonic tours with Rus

Our Takeover Festival with pupils at Canon Barnett Primary School takes place  next Friday (22 March). In the run up to the day we’ll be sharing with you some of the projects that we’ve been working on with the children. First up, Music Leader Rus Pearson tells us about audio tour-guiding.


Pupils of Canon Barnett Primary School. Photo: Alys Tomlinson.

In my role as sound artist, this session saw me working with two small groups to explore the immediate and wider sonic environments. We began by reading and discussing the poem below, then closed our eyes and analysed the sounds that we could hear in the classroom, these included projectors purring, boys breathing, girls giggling, construction cranes clattering and registers rustling.

We then embarked on a sound walk through the school, each group being led by a ‘sonic tour guide’. Using portable audio recorders we documented the many interesting sounds that we discovered on our journey. We visited a number of locations including the stairwells, the dinner hall, several classrooms, the nursery, the school reception, the playground, the garden and held our microphones through the gates to record the sounds of the traffic. We encountered trucks, cars and even a policeman on a motorbike, although much to our disappointment he didn’t make any interesting sounds!

Night Noises In The City
by Jane Yolen

In the country
Things are quiet.
In the city
Noise runs riot.

Car horns beep.
Buses boom.
People shout.
Trucks zoom-zoom.

Fire engine
Siren wails,
Someone whistles
Taxi hails.

Garbage truck
Churns crackety-crack.
Subway rails
Go clickety-clack.

Close your eyes
And use your ears.
And hear what
A city sleeper hears.

Here are several examples of some of the recordings that we made during our journey. Can you guess what they are?

These sounds will form one of the many installations that will be presented on the festival day including the laptop orchestra, a dance mat quartet and “The Cave”. Stay tuned for more details…

We had a great time as sonic adventurers paying attention to the many unusual sounds that surround us, searching for the heart of the city. Close your eyes and listen, what do you hear?

Rus Pearson
Music Leader

Answers: 1) Jewels hidden in the nursery, 2) Giant Connect 4 Game, 3) Radiator Guiro, 4) Spoons in a cup


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