Chris Watson Soundmap Project


Chris Watson

One thing that’s fascinating about field recordings is that they demand imagination. What do I mean?

Hearing sound effects is almost always done at a different location than the original recording. This means that hearing these clips requires a contribution only the listener provides. We match what we hear to our past experiences, or create new ones.

Some recordings are paired with other video or audio in projects. But, for the overwhelming majority of sound recordings, they are disconnected from the original act of gathering them.

Because of this, I’ve always been fascinated with soundmaps. Soundmaps anchor a recording to a specific reality: an exact place and time on the planet. This is usually done by pairing audio previews with push pins on a Google map.

I record the sounds of cultures and cities worldwide, so soundmaps are a perfect fit for my recordings. I wrote about some cool soundmaps earlier.

Recently I learned of a new soundmap project. It is a joint effort by field recordist Chris Watson and Museum Sheffield.

About the Project

I wrote earlier about Chris Watson and his Wildeye field recording workshops. Now he’s using field recordings in a soundmap project with the museum.

The project is called Inside the Circle of Fire, and will be exhibited as a soundscape at the Millennium Gallery.

Chris Watson and the museum are developing the project with a very cool idea: anyone can submit field recordings of Sheffield and the surrounding areas.

And, in a move that I particularly like, they are asking for recordings that describe what’s special about Sheffield itself. In other words, signature sound effects.

Are you near Sheffield? This could be good practice capturing signature recordings.

You can contribute your recordings via the museum’s website, or email

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