“The sound of nature is used a lot in meditation and we hope we will help people feel a bit more relaxed.”
What does your city sound like?
That's what Orbitz asked locals across the globe for Soundscapes, an online collection of short field recordings from 36 locations. The audio gallery mixes urban and natural settings from vacation hotspots and lesser-known destinations in a compelling collection that might make you want to hear the world, or at least listen a little more closely to your hometown.
"Our objective with Soundscapes was to have a more local point of view and to create a real travel experience," says London-based Laura D'Amato, who worked with Orbitz on the project, via email. "For this, we have asked people from all around the world to share with us, what they like the most about their countries, and what they want the rest of the world to discover."
Photo courtesy of Orbitz.
The Soundscapes team contacted their own worldwide networks of family and friends and used Twitter to help spread the word.
For them, it was more about bringing in people from as many different places as they could, rather than focusing on a specific destination. Those who participated in the project had the chance to record what they wanted. "This way we didn’t get the typical beaches and nature sights we see all the time," D'Amato explains. "But [we] got to explore the world from a more local perspective, seeing some destinations we might otherwise have missed."
With Soundscapes, listeners are privy to insights that even locals might take for granted. For city dwellers, things like the roar of traffic and the cacophony of human crowds become part of the day-to-day ambience.
[quote position="full" is_quote="true"]The sound of nature is used a lot in meditation and we hope we will help people feel a bit more relaxed.[/quote]
Listening to the sounds of a city that isn't your own, though, forces you to use your imagination and build a scene. Each sound piece is accompanied by a photo, but you'll still need to fill in the blanks of the story. Listening to the sound of Dublin, Ireland, might prompt you to create your own picture of the man shouting about a perfume sale. The recording from Mumbai, India, may lead you to imagine yourself inside a car as drivers honk around you.
"I was more surprised about how powerful the sound was in our life and how much it added to the photos," says D'Amato. "I have only been to a few of these places but it really gave me the impression to know all of them after listening to it." Amongst her personal favorites are the sounds of Dublin, Johannesburg, Banha in Egypt, and Wellington, New Zealand.
"To me, it is a project about open mindedness and getting to know each other’s countries, while sharing some facts about ours. This is the spirit we tried to work with all the way at least," says D'Amato. Clicking through the recordings might bring about moments familiarity. It may also bring about moments of discovery, like bird calls you don't recognize.
Photo courtesy of Orbitz.
Connecting with natural surroundings is part of Soundscapes too. Birds sing in São Paulo, Brazil, while wind whips through Cumbria, England. Water washes against shores in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Cancun, Mexico.
"We also thought it was really important to have some nature sounds because it really brings a lot of peacefulness to the piece. We live in cities and have noise around us all day, and it is sometimes just good to disconnect and enjoy the sound of nature. It's amazing in the soundscape of São Paulo, Botswana, and Norway for example," she says. "The sound of nature is used a lot in meditation and we hope we will help people feel a bit more relaxed."
These sounds are a reminder of the diversity found across the globe, from the chaotic noise of the city to the peaceful sounds of the beach.
There's a lot to hear, take a listen.