Sounds of the Neolithic Workshop with Colfox School





SATSYMPH & Sounds of the Neolithic [1&2] APP 1 Abbotsbury area



Project: SDR-B11 – The South Dorset Ridgeway GPS-Soundscape

On Tuesday 11 Feb SATSYMPH held our first Sounds of the Neolithic workshop day with 8 young people from Colfox School, Bridport. We started off the day showing rather than telling how the technology works: we took the whole group to the garden in front of the Council House 10 min up the road where we had laid out material previously used for SATSYMPH-HERMES. We shared out the phones between the kids – and let them loose to ‘hunt out’ the soundpools. The technology and experience are very difficult to describe to people, so experience has shown us that’s it’s best first to just let people experience what it feels like in the real world to stumble across physically located pools of sound in an environment.


“Press ‘go’, stick your earphones on – walk!”

DSCF6470We then returned to DIVAc. There followed a long session of intensively listening to and choosing audio material. The audio material had been recorded by the kids on a previous sound collecting walk with DIVAc. After this, another long session followed placing the material PHYSICALLY on a projection of the Grey Mare site.

The word PHYSICALLY is emphasised – creating a GPS-triggered soundscape is a very physical process: you literally place the sound you want onto a map of the landscape feature you want the sound to be associated with. It’s not the normal way ‘sound’ is thought of  – as having a physical reality in the environment!


The process was as in the picture above: the description of the chosen sound was written on a PostIt note (of different colour acc. to the ‘mood’ or ‘colour’ of the sound) and its placing was discussed and agreed with the group. The discussion was along the lines of ” now, there’s a long – relatively – lead-in to the actual stones. So it’s a sort of ‘processional’. What sort of sound you have collected would suit this ‘processional’ aspect? And when you get to the actual stones, what do you hear? Coud it be a crescendo, some type of culmination? Can we ‘hide’ some surprises somewhere for people to stumble across?” Etc…) So we that went something like this:


Once the ‘sound regions’ had been established on the projected mock-up, the actual sounds were geo-placed onsite using Appfurnace software in readiness for the next day’s workplan:


Which had been to go on site at the Grey Mare and her Colts and check 1. whether the soundpools were actually where they had been placed virtually, and, 2. to check whether it actually sounds like it sounded in the projection simulation.

Unfortunately …

… the weather forcast for the Wednesday was absolutely horrendous (3 degrees, heavy rain, 85mph winds!) … not exactly weather for anyone – never mind SATSYMPH and a bunch of kids with smartphones – to be wandering around exposed high moors jabbing at screens! We cancelled and arranged a date later in March, when, hopefully, the weather would be mild and balmy and we could test, adjust, sit and eat our sarnies overlooking the beautiful coast at Abbotsbury.


The kids were great! Involved, enthusiastic, funny and full of ideas. The sound material they had collected with DIVAc was atmospheric and creative, and had a distinct ‘sense of place’ associated with the Grey Mare and her Colts.


“it was amazing to look at the orange boxes on the map; you got to think a lot about ‘sound’ and ‘landscape’; and to try and remember how it felt (on location when recording) and the effect that that had”

“I liked putting all the sounds on the map that people will hear. It’ll definitely make me think differently about sound’

“Going out at the start was the best bit; I now understand how the app is made”

” I enjoyed it – it was very different from what we do at school. I’ve never built an app before and now I’m curious about how they are made”

“I learnt how to make a soundscape app. I’d never worked with sound online before and it’s given me a lot of ideas. I liked actually going somewhere – the Council HOuse – and actually listening to the sounds there”

“You can tell a story (with this technology)”

“Really good; I liked learning about the app and puttiong the sounds in different places. We’ve done a bit of sound recording and editing (in Audacity) at school, but not at this level”

“very interesting – when you listen to music, you do have associations, but not geographic ones”

(discusing the placing of the sound of a pheasant): Marc: “where would you like a pheasant to go? Kid: “In my oven!”



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