What are Soundwalks? Soundscapes?


And campers will use their found ‘sound’ treasures to construct their own soundscapes, following their own inspirations and creative instincts. 


One of the things we’ll be looking at every week are soundwalks and soundscape compositions. But what are these? Before I tell  you more about these things, have a listen to the following soundscape composition called “City Symphony” from the movie August Rush – a film about a young orphaned prodigy who uses his musical gifts to find his biological parents.


Soundwalks are exactly what they sound like: walks that explore sound. You can explore the sounds everywhere – whether it’s deep in the forest of the Toronto Ravine system or in the commercial semi-industrial space behind Dufferin Mall. But what’s really interesting about sound walks is how much more you are able to see when you take the time to listen. Often  soundwalks can even uncover hidden stories about a place or a neighbourhood…


“A soundscape is any collection of sounds, almost like a painting is a collection of visual attractions,” says internationally renown Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer. “When you listen carefully to the soundscape it becomes quite miraculous.”

There are soundscapes that occur organically from our natural or urban environments – that’s what the composer R. Murray Schafer is talking about above. And then there are composed soundscapes.


This piece of art is actually the musical score written by world-renown Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer. The instrumentation involves an orchestra, 7 singers, and electronic sounds.

Soundscape Compositions

Soundscape compositions are compositions that rely less on what we usually expect from music, like a regularly repeated melody and/or rhythm. Instead, it explores sounds and silence, and is more directly inspired by a specific idea and/or emotion. Often this results in a musical piece that boarders on theatre or performance art. You can even see from the picture (which is an actual score by the composer R. Murray Schafer) how the score of a soundscape composition defies conventions and looks more like a piece of art than the typical musical notation.

at MusiCamp

As mentioned, at MusiCamp, our soundwalks will work like a musical treasure hunt and campers will be:

  1. instructed to search for specific types of sounds
  2. encouraged to connect the dots between what they hear and what they see to makeup a story about the place or neighbourhood they acoustically explore.

Back at the studio, campers will:

  1. create a soundscape composition imitating the sounds they heard – perhaps to tell the story of the place or neighbourhood they just explored
  2. and if campers wish to, they will also be given the opportunity to create their own score for their creation