BETTER SOUND 2019 | Category: 3.1 Soundscapes and Ambient Sound





Belsentire is a soundscape design workshop designed by Suonifreschi for Palazzo Grassi in Venice, addressed to a group of teens of 17 y.o., with the aim to reinvent the soundscape of the city and make it “sound better”, starting from boat’s engine sound re-branding. Then, the “Belvedere” Punta della Dogana in Venice becomes “Belsentire” as well.


Belvedere is an educational activity aiming to enhance sensitivity to urban sonic environment in young people, through a soundscape design experience. Punta della Dogana is a unique panoramic place in Venice: a Belvedere. While the view is extraordinary, the soundscape is of low quality: an undifferentiated sonic flow produced by motor boats passing by. But what could be the Belvedere soundscape in the future, if the combustion engines will be replaced by electric motors, whose sound will be conceived by sound designers? Is it possible to reinvent a soundscape starting from sound branding practices?

To answer this question, 12 local high school students were involved. First they went on Punta della Dogana to analyze the context. They observed the water traffic and extracted a music score, then recorded short films (3 minutes long) from different points of view focussing on the landscape and recorded the soundscape as well.

Then, in the computer room, they replaced the original soundtrack with the new one they had to design and develop. They chose a sound palette for each boat, matching with their features (size, movements, velocity, etc); in addition, they transformed sounds with audio processing techniques, keeping in regard boats movements, and they organized all sounds together, following the traffic score. Finally they came up with creating something new, between soundscape design, sound branding design, music composition: they made Belvedere (in Italian “beautiful viewing”) become a Belsentire (in Italian “beautiful listening”).

Form the point of view of sound production technique, Belsentire is the first step of a sequence of three steps.

– 1st step: October 2018. Not-real time sound library processing: Student accessed to a prepared sound library, they fixed the connection sound – boat and they processed the sound in order to follow boats feature. A sort of new sound track for multiple short films (3 minutes long) recorded from the point of view of Punta della Dogana.

– 2nd step: July 2019. Real time environment sound processing. Students will get real time boats sounds and process it (harmonising and filtering technique) to create a new sound, similar to the original but more “harmonic”.

– 3rd step: probably in July 2020. Real time video processing and sound synthesis. Students will get the parameters of boats traffic through a real time video analysis, they will connect parameters to sound synthesis engine and produce a new soundscape, based on boats movement: a sort of water traffic sonification.

For students, Belsentire is an opportunity to rediscover their urban environment, and to increase their ability to listen to the sounds of the city and to appreciate the importance of urban sound design. For visitors of Punta della Dogana, Belsentire offers a chance to fully appreciate this place, unique in the world. Finally, students get close to the dream of Raymond Murray Shafer (Schafer 1977): The Tuning of the World.

Project video