Sonic Drift is a workshop and action about exploring a city through sound and live audio streaming. We appropriate psychogeography and the Situationists Dérive actions as a starting point, and combine these tools with the contemporary tools of locative art; geolocation, mobile networks and ubiquitous computing. We will make live collaborative soundscapes by streaming audio from the muliple "agents" engaging in their individual psychogeoacoustic city survey, back to a central location. These audio streams or "streamscapes" shall combine to create a portrait of the city at one time from multiple perspectives. Sonic Drifts is a project of the Locative Music Ensemble and the workshop is led by composer and network artist Rob Canning.


The workshop will be in two parts. In the first part we will look at the technological tools we will use in the drift and in the second part we will discuss and devise stragies for the drift.

workshop: part one

Experience with computers, coding, streaming is not essential, this is more of a taster demo session. This will be an overview of tools you need to make live audio streams, both from a fixed location and from mobile locations using 3G/HSPA mobile networks. There will be a short introduction to some streaming server and client software such as Icecast, VLC and Liquidsoap followed by a look at battery powered portable setups using the embedded linux Raspberry Pi computer along side batterypacks, high quality audio interfaces and tethered data links.

workshop: preparing to drift

Having learnt how to assemble the mobile streaming rig, we will as a group embark on a sonic exploration of the city, each with our own streaming rig broadcasting the sounds we create/encounter live back to the "base". The base shall comprise a multispeaker surround setup with a pair of speakers relaying the sounds from the outside back inside. Four "sonic drifters" each will transmit stereo singals resulting in an 8-channel surround sound soundscape, each stream hearing the same city at the same time but from the different perspectives of the drifters. In the second part of the workshop we can discuss how we may want to execute the drift and devise a course of action.

the drift

20/09/2013 The exact time of the drift is TBC but perhaps somwhere around ~7.30PM. We shall drift for as long as the batteries will allow ~1.5hrs or a timescale we decide on together in the workshop discussion. We may doing two shorter drifts, one to make a live 8-channel streamscape and maybe another to record and document the action.


After the drift we will return to the contemporary music centre where we can informally continue to disucss a mixture of the technological, social and aesthic aspects of the sonic drift. This part will also be open to the public to engage with as part of CMC's culture night 2013. It will be very informal however with the public themselves drifting between rooms where different composers will be working on and presenting different projects. It is not a formal concert or performance but more like an open studio... with some wine. We can also use this time to gather recordings and project a mutichannel version of what we did during the day to project through the multichannel speaker system.

what to bring

If you have a mobile phone with a data plan, bring that, and a cable to plug it into the USB of a computer. Bring a laptop if you have one. Bring a zoom audio recorder if you have one. I have a few spare bits and pieces. So dont worry about this if you dont have any of the above.

This workshop will exclusively use Free, Libre and Open Source Software.