The sounds of Nelson go global

1 March 2024

People from anywhere in the world can listen to the sounds and noises of Nelson, as recordings direct from the town are becoming part of an online open database of sound.

Nelson Overheard, part of This is Nelson, the arts and culture strand of the Nelson Town Deal, is a project led by two artists, who are working with local people to record the everyday sounds in the places where they live, work and play. The sounds are being archived in an online soundmap for the town, as well as being included in the global sound database Freesound.

Anyone can submit a recording, which can be taken simply on a mobile phone. The vision is to create a permanent archive of sounds from Nelson, available to all, capturing the essence of the town.

The project, created with commissioned artists Rob St John and Tommy Perman, is designed to encourage people to stop and listen to their everyday surroundings. Tommy says:

“These days everyone is very used to taking photos and videos with their phones and our visual culture is now extremely well documented. But collecting sounds isn’t nearly as common. It’s lovely to be involved in a project which encourages people to gather noises that are unique to Nelson and then make them available as a sound map for anyone to explore.”

The soundmap is part of ongoing workshops and conversations with local people, uncovering their views on their place and homes. Lancashire artist Rob says:

“It’s great to be working back in East Lancs after many years away. Nelson Overheard aims to celebrate the diversity of daily life in Nelson, particularly in places that are otherwise overlooked or hidden. Sound can tell us a lot about what a place is like, and Nelson occupies a unique space between the town and the hills, where birdsong and the river blur with the voices and songs of different communities. We have created an online sound map where people can submit their own sound recordings of Nelson, which are mapped and shared with people around the world. We’re working with local groups in the town in workshops to learn more about sound recording and the value of listening.”

Nelson Overheard is part of This is Nelson, the arts and culture strand of the Nelson Town Deal. This partnership programme between In-Situ, Pendle Council, Building Bridges and Super Slow Way is taking place over the next 3 years, bringing artists together to help re-imagine Nelson; open up underused spaces; think sustainably and support ground-up community activism in the town.

The Nelson Overheard artists hope that many people get involved in researching and recording soundscapes. It’s particularly important to them that the lesser known parts of Nelson are explored, capturing birdsong, voices, music, weather, buildings, games, laughter – anything that celebrates everyday life in Nelson.

You can send your sounds to: [email protected] or via WhatsApp on: 07508902008
The sounds you send us will be added to the sound map to create a growing archive of the sounds of Nelson.
You can download all of the sounds from the map and use them in any way you wish from here:
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