COVID-19_Belfast City: Lockdown 3

Graffiti text of Covid-19 "keep a safe distance" during Lockdown 3 in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Graffiti text to “Keep A Safe Distance” in one of the alley’s of Belfast

Listening Soundscape Study 4

In the midst of a global pandemic, countries and cities have become literal ghost towns. Once flustered with sounds from human activities, this has now been overtaken from the subtle industrial, mechanical, and natural environment sounds. This project began on Friday, March 27, 2020, during Lockdown 1, after a year of different lockdowns, we were now in Lockdown 3 on Saturday, March 27, 2021. These recordings reflect the one year of changes due to Covid-19 on our urban spaces. Re-capturing the same first 10 locations from a year prior.

Refer to Covid-19_Belfast City: Lockdown 1 for initial listening comparison:

The project maintains the same recording constrictions of using my one daily activity of walking around the city of Belfast and quickly recording various local or touristic points of interest with aid of the VisitBelfast’s visitor map. Each of the soundscapes lasts two minutes because of the strict lockdown measurements set by the government, only allowing us to be outside for limited periods of time for essential grocery shopping, a daily activity, work, or health-related. Once this lockdown is officially lifted, there will be an additional soundscape recording to compare and reflect the changes of these areas such as the Exit Strategies recorded in Summer 2020. There is also the attempt to try and record the locations as close to the same times as the year before.

For this project, the points of interest are (Hyperlinked to Wikipedia Pages):

Please listen with headphones to enhance the auditory experience.

On the left you have the 5th day of the lockdown, on the right will be during or after the lockdown is lifted

Part 1 – March 27, 2021
(1 year from initial recordings of Belfast lockdowns)

Part 2 – July 4, 2021 + August 28, 2021
(1 year from Exit Strategies Summer 2020)

Albert Memorial Clock

Recorded at 6:02 pm

Recording of pedestrians, vehicles, cyclists, and skateboarders in windy conditions.

Recorded at 6:09pm

Recording of buses passing on their route, some teenagers shouting in the area, the chatter from pedestrians, and a loud motorcycle riding by.

Arthur Square

Recorded at 5:11pm

Recording of an individual gospel preacher while skateboarders, pedestrians, and a flautist. The public setting resembles some of the pre-covid conditions of what I remember, an intertwined community of sounds. 

Recorded at 3:40pm

Recording of shoppers, pedestrians, families, and two groups fighting for their voice to be heard, one being the LBGTQ+ singing and the other a Gospel preaching. This recording shows the constant sonic clash within the space when it is fully reopened, and people are trying to spread their message from whichever group they identify. Other times it is other groups of activists or musicians trying to be heard.

Belfast City Hall

Recorded at 5:05pm

Recording of a group of a gospel preachers in the distance, vehicles, pedestrians, children playing around, and a bit of birds. 

Recorded at 5:50pm

Recording of the green space in front of the city hall with people walking, sitting, and/or talking. In the background there are some vehicles passing and a few moments are birds flying.

Botanic Gardens

Recorded at 4:05pm

Recording of a dog running around me tries to get their toy, passer-by’s chatting, various birds at different distances, someone playing music from their portable speaker, joggers, and groups of people playing sports in the open fields.

Recorded at 5:09pm

Recording of a people engaged in a conversation, children running and shouting around, strollers being pushed, sport activities being played in the green space, bicyclists and their bells, and a calm nature setting with the bird chirps.

Commercial Court

Recorded at 5:45pm

Recording of a group of people at a distance but their voices resonate down the cobblestone street, large group of seagulls flying above, sirens passing along another street, and a couple walking down the alleyway.  

Recorded at 6:23pm

Recording of the bars being reopened in the famous bar district in town. People are sitting and chatting away on outdoor sitting arrangements. There are tourists and locals walking around, some taking photos, others discussing the appeal of the bars. There is some background glassware being heard and muffled bar chats.

Great Victoria Street

Recorded at 4:54pm

Recording of vehicles driving past with extremely windy conditions causing some of the plastic tarps from a building under construction to flap furiously.  

Recorded at 3:22pm

Recording of people walking through with their luggage’s, either having left the bus station or heading towards it. There is a lot more traffic either from pedestrians or vehicles, the space is periodically emptied and filled with these instances of modes of travel.

Queen’s University Belfast

Recorded at 4:19pm

Recording of vehicles, pedestrian cross lights, pedestrians, and distant passer-by chatter

Recorded at 2:49pm

Recording of locals and tourists visiting the front of the Lanyon Building at Queen’s University Belfast. In the distance, there is a photographer instructing a bridge and groom for certain poses to take in front of the building. There is vehicle traffic in the background and moments of the pedestrian cross lights being activated.

Shaftesbury Square

Recorded at 4:33pm

Recording of a street sweeper passing by while vehicles drive on through regular traffic conditions.  

Recorded at 3:05pm

Recording of a major vehicle junction, traffic has significantly increased now that many establishments have reopened. Meaning, that there are many more vehicles back on the road. There are instances where you hear slight chatter from passing pedestrians

St Annes Cathedral

Recorded at 5:36pm

Recording of a few vehicles driving in the area, with distant voices and birds flying around.

Recorded at 6:36pm

Recording of two taxi men having a discussion, a group of people laughing about, bird calls and sounds of their flight, a few vehicles driving through, and there is also a musical band heard in the far distance.

The Entries

Recorded at 5:22pm

Recording of a nearby generator producing a constant electrical hum, birds flying above, and voices resonating within the alleyway.

Recorded at 6:53pm

Recording of the top of the alleyway where there is some bar music being played, some pedestrians walking and chatting, vehicles passing in the background, and an instance of bicyclists riding through.

Extra Recording of St Patrick’s Day Belfast – 2021-03-17

Recorded at 4:13pm

Doubled recording stitched together, beginning near Belfast City Hall where the St. Patricks Parade would usually march off from. Without the annual parade, there are only regular city noises from birds, dogs walked, vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians.
The second half of the recording ventures into Botanic Gardens, in which, large groups of people were set up partying in the middle of the big empty field. There was dancing, shouting, balls kicked, mixed in with the wildlife of the park. The ending of the recording has the park staff closing some of the gates to direct people through the main gates as the police came in to disperse the crowd.

Extra Recording of Orange Day Belfast – 2021-07-12

Recorded at 11:30am

Extended recording of the Orange Day marching bands on Lisburn Road. There are groups of people, either alone, coupled, or with their families attending the different bands marching through. On the side, some children play their own drum kits to mimic the marching bands. The road is closed off to allow safe viewing and attendance of the marches. There are instances of whistles to direct or instruct a specific marching band. It is an interesting sequence that seems never-ending since there “seems” to be an endless number of marching bands for that specific hour that they are marching through the closed road.

Additional Contributions

1Sounding Belfast During Covid-19

During a global pandemic, countries and cities have become literal ghost towns. Once flustered with sounds from human activities, it has now been overtaken from the once subtle industrial, urban, and natural sound environments. Recording multiple points during the lockdown, we are able to chronologically experience the differences imposed by Covid-19 restrictions and how these spaces have changed from the start of the global pandemic.
This project reflects through an auditory and sonic art perspective how the city sounds like without the presence of humans or the normal amount of human density in popular areas in public spaces of Belfast.

This project is accessible via Echoes (GPS soundwalks):
Or alternatively scan the QR code below…

2- Cities and Memory

This sound map is part of Cities and Memory: #StayHomeSounds is a global field recording & sound art work that presents both the present reality of a place and an alternative, reimagined sound world – remixing the world, one sound at at time.

Scroll to Northern Ireland and you will see all files I have recorded.

3- Radio Aporee – Soundscapes in the Pandemic:

The platform radio aporee is online since about 2000, the project radio aporee ::: maps has started 2006. it is a global soundmap dedicated to field recording, phonography and the art of listening. it connects sound recordings to its places of origin, in order to create a sonic cartography, publicly accessible as a collaborative project. It contains recordings from numerous urban, rural and natural environments, disclosing their complex shape and sonic conditions, as well as the different perceptions, practices and artistic perspectives of its many contributors. this makes it a valuable resource for art, education and research projects, and for your personal pleasure.

In addition to aspects of collecting, archiving and sound-mapping, the radio aporee platform also invokes experiments at the boundaries of different media and public space. within this notion, radio means both a technology in transition and a narrative. it constitutes a field whose qualities are connectivity, contiguity and exchange. concepts of transmitter/ receiver and performer/ listener may become transparent and reversible.

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