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Exploring with your ears: Spots to visit on a sonic tour of Bristol and Plymouth

Whether you’re a fresher at dBs or thinking about studying with us in the future, going on a sound walk is a great way of getting to know our two cities. Here are some spots to check out.

There’s no better way to immerse yourself in a new city than by listening to it. Taking a walk and paying attention to the soundscape can help you to understand your surroundings on a deeper level. But when so many tours are built around sightseeing, how do you uncover the best listening locations? To guide you in your audio explorations, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most sonically interesting locations in Bristol and Plymouth.

Bristol:

The Harbourside Market

Bristol has long been known for its multicultural and vibrant food scene, and one way to get a sense of that is to head to one of its many markets. On Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, you can catch some of the city’s best food traders at The Harbourside Market at Broad Quay. This market reflects Bristol’s identity as a hub of diversity and is a great place to tune into the hustle and bustle of Bristol’s local community and tourists alike. In fact, one of our recent electronic music production graduates, Joe Valek aka ‘Wafro’ found this location so sonically impressive, he based a whole experimental composition around it. Thank You, Enjoy was recorded whilst waiting for a lamb El Gorrito at the Los Hermanos food truck. The track captures his experience patiently waiting and zoning out whilst he waits for his food, before being brought back to reality through a loud event.

Cabot Circus

Cabot Circus is a covered shopping centre which is adjacent to Broadmead, the city’s shopping district. An arched ceiling and great colonnades give Cabot Circus a unique acoustic quality which makes it a great spot for listening and recording. If you can resist the temptation to indulge in some retail therapy, we’d recommend heading down to Cabot later in the day. When the space has emptied of shoppers, you can produce some really cool delays by standing underneath the glazed roof and clapping.

Cabot Circus sound walk Bristol

Victoria and Perrett’s Park

It’s common for our students to spend a lot of their time in North Bristol, due to the buzzy nightlife and bohemian vibe associated with areas like Stokes Croft and Gloucester road. As a result, many don’t tend to venture south of the river until much later in their student lives – even though areas like Bedminster and Southville are only a short walk from dBs. 

Visiting these neighbourhoods is a great way to break out of the student bubble. Bedminster is a popular traditional Bristol neighbourhood, which has undergone a lot of development in recent years but is still home to many local people. As a result, it’s a great place to hear some true Bristol accents, alongside many others. It’s also home to some beautiful green spaces. Head to Victoria or Perrett’s Park to soak up a more serene soundscape within the city. These spots also offer some of the best views during Bristol’s annual balloon fiesta!

Bristol balloon fiesta

St Werbughs Tunnel 

The birthplace of Banksy, Bristol is widely considered the UK’s street art capital. Although you can find graffiti and street art pretty much anywhere in the city, there are certain hotspots that deserve particular attention. One of these is the Mina Road tunnel in St Werburghs. This 200-foot long underpass not only gets regular makeovers from some of the best graffiti artists in Bristol but also produces some truly epic echoes. One of the best times to visit this location is during the annual St Werbughs Farm Summer Fair, which sees a samba-led carnival parade pass through the tunnel. As you might expect, the experience is nothing short of electrifying.  

Plymouth:

Plymouth’s Industrial and Historical Sea Front

Plymouth is a bustling port city that’s steeped in maritime history. A walk from Queen Annes’s Battery Marina, around the Barbican, onwards across the Hoe and continuing to the Royal William Yard offers a diverse taste of the maritime, recreational and industrial functions of the city and its associated soundscapes. 

Once you’ve soaked up the hustle and bustle, be sure to check out the Elizabethan Gardens hidden away in the Barbican. This walled garden is often empty and features beautifully arranged green spaces and fountains that offer a unique acoustic environment for somewhere surrounded by such a busy recreational area.

The waterfront is also a great place to catch the British Firework Championships that take place annually in Plymouth. You can also book trips to visit Drake’s Island, a small island where you can explore historical defensive structures and tunnels.

Plymouth harbour sound walk

Beaches

Jennycliff, Bovisand, and Cawsand beaches are all only a short journey away from Plymouth and offer some great locations for capturing some less industrial soundscapes and exploring the natural acoustic environments of the sea and associated coastal wildlife.

Plymouth Market

Plymouth’s covered market is a great place to explore the soundscapes associated with Plymouth’s vibrant multicultural population and is a great place for capturing binaural soundscapes. 

There’s almost always a backdrop of the chatter of conversations echoing around the cavernous space. It’s also a great place to grab some food and wonder at the varied bargains and curiosities available amongst its 140 stalls. Turn up early enough and you could find it quiet enough to capture the reverb characteristics of the space and create your own impulse responses for use in your productions.

Dartmoor National Park

Dartmoot south west sound walk

Plymouth is not far from the south edge of Dartmoor and several locations on the moor are easily accessible from the city. 

This area of outstanding natural beauty is rich with wildlife, rivers, waterfalls, lakes, ancient woodlands, abandoned industrial architecture and prehistoric stone monuments so there is no shortage of beautiful sounds to listen to and record. Be aware though – many locations are high up and very exposed, so bring a windshield if you want to avoid rumbly recordings.

Find out about our two cities: Bristol and Plymouth or book a tour and come see our campuses for yourself! 


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