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A unique global project to discover, explore and reimagine the sounds of human migration and settlement.

Phase 1 – recordings

We are currently looking for recordings representing the experiences of people on the move, migrating and settling – these can be submitted until 31 March 2024.

Submit your recordings here

If you have any questions about submitting a recording for the project, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer. Recordings can also be submitted anonymously and do not need to identify any individuals contained within them.

Phase 2 – compositions

The project is now open for musicians and sound artists to reimagine this incredible bank of sound recordings into a suite of brand new compositions.

If you would like to apply to join the Migration Sounds project as a composer/artist/musician/producer, you can do so at this link from now until Friday 29 March.

So what are the sounds of migration? Often they are the sounds of everyday life as experienced in a new place – not just the sounds of the headline-grabbing aspects of migration.

Since the dawn of human society, people have moved from place to place and built new lives in locations far from where they were born or raised.

People move for innumerable reasons and each experience is utterly unique – moving from the UK to the USA can be as dislocating as moving from Cameroon to France or from China to Ethiopia. Moving to work, or to study, or for love can each be expected to lead to very different outcomes and experiences – as can moving for safety or protection.

Similarly, being away from loved ones, or the places and things that anchor you in a place can be intimidating: the apparent strangeness of a new city or town can make you profoundly aware of sounds that more settled residents might completely screen out.

So what are the sounds that capture your own experience of living in a new country? What are the sounds that tell you when you have found a new place that is “home”?

Accents, sirens, birdsong, train doors closing, cicadas, the sounds of calls to prayer, market traders, people in bars or the night-time barking of stray dogs can all capture a sense of place – but what are the sounds that speak of your own experience of moving between countries and places?

We hope you’ll find this project as exciting as we do – it’s going to be an amazing way to use sound and creativity to talk about something hugely important in 2024.

Why migration?

Migration is one of the most polarising and contentious subjects in policy, media and public debates worldwide. Politicians and media endlessly debate migration policies, border enforcement, economic imperatives and threats, social impacts and many other abstract concepts that shape our thinking about what the very idea of “migration” entails.

But it is critical to understand that migration is not one singular concept or experience. Every person who migrates, and every person who encounters people on the move, or lives in a place that is affected or changed by migration experiences this phenomenon differently.

So how can sound help us to understand these deeply human and personal experiences?

Why sound and migration?

There has never been an open public effort to collect the sounds of migration and discover what those sounds mean to the listener, giving us an opportunity to explore experiences and understandings of migration from an entirely new angle.

Sound provides us with a way to briefly immerse ourselves in one of the sensations of place that is hidden from us when we read a story or look at a picture, and sound can transport us to a place and a time more vividly than almost any other sense. We can all hear before we are born, and sound is an incredible part of our daily lived experience.

The Migration Sounds project offers a unique way to explore and understand human migration and settlement through field recordings, sound and artistic responses to those sounds.

If you have any questions about the project, please feel free to contact us.

A partnership between Cities and Memory and the Centre on Migration, Policy and Society (COMPAS)  at the University of Oxford.

Take part in the project

You can submit a recording on the themes of migration, settlement, place and exile from wherever you are until 31 March 2024.

You can apply to join the project as an artist from now until 29 March 2024 at this link.

Migration Sounds is the first large-scale public exploration of the sounds of migration.

We’re looking for recordings of the sounds of migration and settlement from all over the world until 31 March 2024.

Applications are also open for artists and musicians to reimagine and recompose these sounds to develop a rich suite of compositions reflecting on their own experiences of listening to these sounds, as well as their own perspectives, emotions and memories.

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Migration Sounds - sounds of the world's migration, settlement and diaspora communities