York by Ear


The project’s background

The original piece was based on a few simple concepts, ideas and facts of modern life. Many people now own iPods, advance mobile phones and other portable devices that play music. Increasingly these devices also support video. People use these devices to listen to music on the go, and in doing so change the sound-world they inhabit, removing the sound from the real world and replacing it with music. The ‘real’ world and the sound they are listening to do not relate, and in many ways the user becomes more distance from reality.

But what if the music they were listening to was related to their environment? Better still, what if it was composed specifically for their environment? This is where the idea for York by Ear came in.

How it works

Users download the York by Ear video and pop it on their iPod or other device. They then go to a predetermined start point, put in their headphones and press play. On screen is a video that guides them from where they along a route around York. Whilst they move, they inhabit a composed sound-world that relates to the environment they are in, from rain beating down on the roof of the church that once stood where they now walk, to the sound of singers and bells from down the ages emanating from York Minster’s walls as if it were speaking its musical past.

All of the sounds were recorded along the route the walk takes or by musicians based in York.

York by Ear being experienced by three users.