The Sound Map of Asturias

LABoral and Juanjo Palacios develop the project mapaSonoru to awaken interest in soundscape, attentive listening and build a sound map of Asturias.

Published: Sep 24, 2013

By Montaña Hurtado Muñoz, Zapatos Rosas, @ZapatosRosas

In September 2011, LABoral started up the project mapaSonoru, individually headed by the phonographist Juanjo Palacios since 2009. The goals of the project are to awaken interest in soundscape, attentive listening and to build a sound map of Asturias through a work group who go on sound walks every month around different locations all over Asturias and by means of an interactive map posted on the website On this map the various recorded sounds are geo-located, both from the field sessions by the work group and those recorded and sent, together with their geolocalisation, using a form, by individuals who wish to contribute to this small but great, constantly-updated archive and to the conservation of sound heritage in Asturias. All of the audio files are licensed under a Creative Commons license that allows the remixing of a work as long as attribution to original authorship is given, the work is not used for commercial purposes, and the derivative work is shared under the same license.

The last session of the previous season, which I had the opportunity to attend, took place on 15 June in a village of only forty inhabitants called La Corrada in the Soto del Barco district. The recording of this sound landscape focused on the sounds of the bell tower and are part of the interest mapaSonoru has in acoustic signals, which will feature in the phonographic project of this new season.

La Corrada. Photo: @ZapatosRosas

As Juanjo Palacios points out on the website of mapaSonoru, acoustic signals have a great advantage over visual ones which is that our field of hearing covers 360º. These types of signals can be used as alarms or to transmit news and, in the specific case of church bells, their sounds also form part of our sound heritage. Unfortunately, in this case, they are in danger of extinction when you consider that the bell ringing profession is disappearing and that many of the civilian tolls have been replaced by other types of notifications due to advances in new technologies and changes in predominantly urban lifestyle.

The mapaSonoru's work group at La Corrada. Photo: @MikiGazquez

Julio Sánchez Andrada, Professor of Percussion at the Conservatory of Music in Oviedo, author of the book Campanas y campaneros en el Arciprestazgo de Gijón [Bells and Ringers in the Archpriestship of Gijón] and when occasion demands, occasional bell ringer of the La Corrada church, spoke to us about these issues. In fact, he was the one in charge of ringing the church bells so that the members of the work group (seven people attended on the day) could make the field recording simultaneously and from different locations around the village: inside the church, in front of it, from the cemetery, from the ruins of the San Ildefonso chapel or from the road. A recording in motion, going around the place, was also made.

Julio Sánchez Andrada playing the bells.
Photo: @MikiGazquez

The best was at the end when the participants shared their experiences, talking about how the bell sounds mixed with other ones belonging to the surroundings, the countryside, cars and the daily life of the village folk. You can read all about this and listen to the audio tracks in the chronicle of the day, written by Juanjo Palacios on the project’s website.

The great thing about mapaSonoru is that it is an open project, which welcomes not just artists but anyone interested in sound, field recordings, geolocalisation and sound art. No special prior knowledge is required in order to take part.  In fact, this is why the field recordings are supplemented with study sessions in which, among other activities, the audios tracks are edited or DIY microphones are fabricated in fabLAB at LABoral.

The new season started on 7 September, as Nuria García informed us in a previous post on LABlog, in a field session in the Botanical Gardens of Gijón. Over the years the work group has made recordings in places which include the urban centres in Gijón, the surroundings of LABoral and Somió, along the Ñora river, at Gijón’s fish market, at public washing places in Jove, at the river park in Piles, at Sanz Crespo station and in an abandoned factory in the outskirts of Gijón. Also, last 18 July, mapaSonoru and LABoral joined the celebrations at the World Listening Day by inviting us to dedicate a few minutes a day to attentively listening to our surroundings. The fact is that we often don’t attach much importance to the sounds that form part of our daily lives yet they constitute our sound heritage, which is why it is necessary to conserve, preserve and diffuse them.

If you are interested in finding out more about mapaSonoru or participating in the project, visit the website

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