Sound and vision blog

Sound and moving images from the British Library

27 February 2014

London Calling

The sounds of London will soon be playing a key role in the second year of the EU funded project, Europeana Creative. The project itself seeks to encourage people working in the creative industries to re-use digitised content from some of Europe's most revered cultural institutions. The online discovery platform Europeana is at the heart of the project and features millions of items, from paintings and manuscripts to sounds and sheet music.

Panorama of the River Thames, 1730, The Wellcome Library (via Europeana)

One of the main aims of Europeana Creative is to create 5 prototypes, from educational games to teaching apps, which will demonstrate ways in which Europeana content can be transformed. The British Library and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision have delved into their respective archives and pulled out thousands of recordings for the project's Social Networks enrichment prototype. In the coming months members of the public will be invited to enhance these sounds by adding images, text and links from Europeana and beyond. One of the themes, Cityscapes, will present a selection of recordings from two crowdsourcing projects; The UK Soundmap and Sound of the Netherlands.  The cities of London and Amsterdam are the focus of the theme, partly because they received the most contributions but also because the potential for enrichment is greater - a few of the British examples include:

Spinning Wheel in Yarn Shop, Bethnal Green

Speakers Corner, Hyde Park

The Wallace Collection, Manchester Square

Tate Modern Turbine Hall, Bankside

The enrichment process will not only give added depth to the sounds but will allow the formation of mini "exhibitions", each one dedicated to a particular recording and sculpted into shape by the public.

Original sound recordings, like those featured in the prototype can offer creative minds unlimited inspiration. Field recordist and sound artist, Yiorgis Sakellariou recently created an audio montage from recordings he made across London. This piece, complete with photographs and text, demonstrates just one way in which sounds can form the basis of a creative piece of work.


Since late 2012 I am residing in London. The city is loud and almost every day my ears are exposed to high decibel levels and a cacophony of incoming sonic information. However, the more I listen to these common sounds, the more I discover the extraordinary within the ordinary, the exquisite in the everyday.

The piece consists of recordings that took place throughout 2013 on several locations in London. The urban soundscape can provide a great variety of textures, sometimes hollow, others powerful. The calm atmosphere at Tottenham Marshes, the poly-rhythmic patterns of the escalators at London Bridge tube station, ventilation drones at Chinatown, bird songs mixed with distant traffic hiss at Dulwich Park...

Listening to the city's soundscape can become a submerging experience which helps me rejoice my daily routines and discover a new and profound sonic world.

Yiorgis Sakellariou January 2014

London - Yiorgis Sakellariou (5'06")




It will be interesting to see how Europeana Creative is able to inspire new ideas, new products and new ways of approaching and re-using Europe's collective cultural heritage. Stay tuned for more news on the enrichment prototype and how you can help us build this exciting new product.



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