URBAN AUDIO is an ongoing project by Florian Tuercke     www.floriantuercke.net

support:    Stiftung Kunstfonds,   Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst,

                 beyerdynamic,   Stadt Nürnberg,   LfA Förderbank Bayern,   Hamburgische Kulturstiftung,

                 Fundación Zaragoza Ciudad del Conocimiento

musical transformation of urban sound

The sound-scape of urban space is a consists of a lot of different sounds, but almost everywhere it is dominated by traffic noise, which was ranked in R. Murray Schafers International Sound Preference Survay as one of the least appealing sounds to human ears.

The idea of URBAN AUDIO is to transform the noise of traffic into musical sounds by filtering its musical frequencies without changing its compositional structure. When doing so, it unfolds, that the unpleasant aspect of traffic is rather its noise, than its structure.

In fact, the seemingly random and chaotic structure reveals its compositional potential when being detached from its original noise-scape. And it turns out that traffic can be regarded as a composition that is un-intentionally created by all its participants.

URBAN AUDIO instruments directly transform ambient noise to musical sounds. The instruments work with tuned strings that vary in tone- and sound-range.

Operational basis for the project is a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter that countains the URBAN AUDIO instruments and an 8-track recording studio including mixer, A/D-interface and wireless transmission systems. The van further contains headphones and chairs for visitors, camera-equipment and all kinds of safety gear.

During URBAN AUDIO project, the van is parked at an innercity traffic hotspot. The instruments are distributed around the area and translate the different acoustic aspects of the traffic situation to musical sounds. Headphones and chairs are provided for visitors to live experience the music of traffic.


URBAN AUDIO started in 2006 with the first sound-transforming instruments. In 2007, the CityMappingNürnberg took place. 22 sites in Nürnberg were visited with different instruments (AudioUnits 1–8). During the AmericanSoundsTour (2008), 26 US-American cities were investigated with one instrument. Vehicle for the 9700-miles Tour was a rented SUV. In early 2009, a project with 8 locations followed in New York City. Later in 2009 the URBAN AUDIO van was created with the help of a project-grant of Stiftung Kunstfonds. The DeutschlandTour took place in 2009/10 in the 16 German State Capital Cities (Landeshauptstädte). In each city, the URBAN AUDIO van and its set of instruments, was placed at one inner-city traffic hotspot. In 2011, URBAN AUDIO visited both European Capitals of Culture: Tallinn (EST, as part of the festival Tunedcity Tallin) and Turku (FIN, invited by the Turku2011 Foundation). In the same year, URBAN AUDIO was invited to work with the sounds of Gdynia and Gdansk (PL) for the festival transvizualia. 2013 URBAN AUDIO was the opening-project for the newly-created Etopia Center for Art & Technology in Zaragoza (ESP).

The outtake-project Spontaneous Random People‘s Choir was part of the public opening of the  European Solidarity Center (ECS) in Gdansk (PL) in 2014. The interactive installation was also shown during the opening of the piano festival Tastentage Leipheim (D) in 2015 There it was used for a musical collaboration with the musician and composer Hauschka.

In 2016, the URBAN AUDIO van was updated. The vehicle itself was replaced, a new instrument-rack was designed and the van was equipped with several new features. The new van was first presented during the festival wydzwieki / resonancs in Elblag (PL) and after used during the 2-weeks project borderland Selb/Aš in 2017

The instruments are tuned to one tone each (E,G,A,H,D,E).

They are distributed in the area of a traffic hotspot.

Each instrument transforms the noise around it.

The sounds from the instruments is transmitted wirelessly to the URBAN AUDIO van.

The van contains a sound-studio where the sounds of the single instruments are merged together to a stereo signal, which is given out on headphones for visitors.

Ambient noise (e.g. traffic) causes the tuned strings inside the instruments to vibrate