BETTER SOUND 2019 | Category: 3.1 Soundscapes and Ambient Sound





Belsentire is a soundscape design workshop conceived 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.

In the computer room, they replaced the original soundtrack with the new one they had to design and develop. For each boat,  they chose a sound palette matching with its features (size, shape, weight); in addition, they transformed sounds with audio processing techniques, keeping in regard boats movements, and they organized all sounds together, following the music 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”).

From the point of view of sound production technique, Belsentire is the first step in a sequence of three steps of increasing difficulty.

1st step: October 2018: Sound processing of an instrumental sound library.

2nd step: October 2019: Sound processing of Punta della Dogana ambient sounds, including boats engines.

3rd step: October 2019: Real time sound synthesis, based on an interactive system: the video analysis of the water traffic scene produces data feeding the sound generation process.

For students, Belsentire is an opportunity to rediscover their urban environment, to learn to keep listening 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, we get close to the dream of Raymond Murray Shafer (Schafer 1977): The Tuning of the World.


Project video