We do not always realise it, but sounds have a deep impact on our perceptions of a place. Some noises we seek out: we put on a piece of music, or turn on the radio. Some noises intrude: the howl of a siren, a neighbour doing D-I-Y. Some noises are part of the background, and we barely notice them in our daily routine: wind rustling the trees, birds chirping, people chatting in the distance.
The sounds of Essex characterise the county as much as what we see. Which sounds are distinctively Essex? How have those sounds changed over the years?
On our Essex Sounds audio comparison map, we have pulled together historic sounds of the county preserved in the Essex Sound and Video Archive, with new recordings of what similar places and events sound like today, captured by Sound Recordist Stuart Bowditch.
The map is now available as an app! Download a trial version from the Google Play store or the Apple app store and let us know what you think. With the app, you can download all the content so you can listen to the recordings while on the road exploring the county.
Some of the recordings on the map are people talking about places they remembered rather than the sounds heard in those places, but, told in an Essex accent, they still evoke a sense of the location.
We are providing the historic sounds from our archive, but we need your help with the present day. If you hear an interesting sound in your journeys across Essex, capture it and share it with us. Don’t forget to download our recording cards before you go, to collect contextual information when you make your recording.
We would be grateful for any comments you have about the website or the app. You can complete a survey here to let us know what you think.
Please help us make our audio map truly representative of life and culture in Essex.
If you want some direction before going out and recording your Essex sounds, come on our sound walk event in Chelmsford on Friday, 27 October. In the morning, we will guide you around different parts of the city to teach how to capture different types of soundscapes. In the afternoon, we will run a beginner’s session on editing digital sound files. For more information and to book, visit our events page.