Skip links

A sound map of Cork, Ireland

Every so often here at Cities and Memory, we’re contacted by someone whose existing sound work fits closely with our ambition to remix the world one sound at a time, and we’re pleased to be able to bring their project on board as part of ours – see for instance, the great work done by restive in Cape TownGavin_Prior_-_Babbleon_Cork_-_Part_II last year.

Dublin-based Gavin Prior got in touch about a sound collage of the city he’d produced as part of a project called Babbleon Cork, available as a free download album. It’s a sonic tour of the city, blending field recordings with a collage of different sounds to present the sounds of the city in a new light. Gavin describes the project:

““Babbleon Cork” is the result of my residency in the Guesthouse in May 2010. I’ve created an audio collage in three parts composed solely of sounds recorded during my time in Cork. With my portable recorder, I moved through the city guided by suggestions from Corkonians, my ears and serendipity. I had certain recording locations in mind but many of the sounds were stumbled upon or lured me away from my intended destination.

“As a musician/producer I’m used to generating the sounds I want to hear. Field recordings are only an occasional element in my work. In Cork my job was to listen keenly and to seek out interesting places and people to record my source material. Working within a strict set of limitations I used only the material I could find in the city to produce the collage, making conventionally ‘musical’ passages solely from found sound. I avoided effects (apart from some EQ scrubbing up) because I wanted to keep it visceral and life-like. I felt driven to create a contemporary, urban soundtrack when the voices featured are those of skateboarders and hoodie-clad party-goers.

“I frequented areas I wouldn’t normally spend time in when visiting Cork so we hear teenagers spouting racism in a city centre chipper and perspectives on the economy from a homeless man and carousing economics students. Sometimes I changed my appearance to blend in and others I engaged with people to draw out their stories. Cork sounds much like any other Irish city but the undulous Cork accent is truly unique. There’s a documentary element with space for city-dwellers to share their stories and opinions. The emotional content of the direct speech is soundtracked and enhanced by the abstract, “instrumental” elements in the collage. I simply followed my ears during the residency without a theme in mind but during the editing/assembly process themes and connections revealed themselves.

“The result is an EP which captures the energy of the city mixing layers of abstracted sounds and the fluent, irreverent utterances of the Corkonians themselves. I’ve released this project as a free download under a creative commons licence leaving it open for sampling and remixing.”

Below are three field recordings and three sound collages containing those original recordings, so dive in and explore Cork with Gavin.

City version one:


Memory version one:


City version two:


Memory version two:


City version three:


Memory version three: