What Exactly Does Canada Sound Like? A New National Project Wants To Find Out

If you had to describe the sounds of Canada, what would they include? A loon’s lonely cry across the lake? A puck dropping in the freezing cold? Transit bus wheels spinning out in a winter storm? A new project called Canada Sound wants you to submit all those and more to a national database in celebration of the big 150.

Users can submit their sound clips on the Canada Sound website. All of the sounds are on display on Canada Sound’s interactive virtual database, and can be used by Canadian musicians in their works. For example, Walk Off the Earth has already recorded an Arcade Fire cover using some of the sounds. Other Canadian artists like Digging Roots and The OBGMs are also signed on to collaborate, with the CBC launching a weekly podcast dedicated to featuring DJs and artists mixing the sounds into music. A few selections of the songs will even be compiled into an album, with proceeds benefitting MusiCounts charity.

The submitted sounds are all being saved by the Department of Canadian Heritage in a national database, in the hopes that future Canadians will have a sonic reference of the country during its 150th year. Even the closing of streetcar doors in downtown Toronto is an example of a sound worth preserving, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

The entire database can be viewed right here, with new sounds constantly being added from across the country. There’s even an interactive map so you can see exactly what sounds are coming from where – in case you needed a little more inspiration. The great Canadian sound bank is taking submissions all year long, so be sure to check periodically to see what sounds citizens are coming up with…and what artists are doing with them!

Mathew Kahansky

Once upon a time, Mat studied journalism. That's how he became Alan's one-time intern and current-time contributor, and the rest is ongoing history - get it? Mat also studied biology and music, so he has a strangely specific knowledge set that doesn't really apply anywhere other than useless fun facts. He currently works for a music tech start-up in Halifax, and is a big fan of the em dash.

One thought on “What Exactly Does Canada Sound Like? A New National Project Wants To Find Out

  • April 2, 2017 at 9:44 am

    My wife and I were talking about this project recently, but we’re a little confused about it. The original goal, from what I read, was to preserve sounds that Canadians (unclear: ONLY Canadians? at LEAST Canadians?) would be able to identify. But of course there are precious few sounds that would actually be counted there. A loon’s call is probably the most Canadian aural thing ever (and even that, not every Canadian would know), but after that the examples that they initially provided start dropping off in likelihood it could be identified. The sound of streetcar doors closing? Only identifiable to urban Canadians (even more: urbanites who live in a city with streetcars, and who use the streetcar or pay attention to their sounds). The paddling of a canoe? Canada’s not the only place that has canoes. I think someone had suggested sheets snapping in the wind on a clothesline, but again, that’s not just a Canadian thing, and another had suggested an Orca’s call. I bet I could pick a hundred people off the street and while a decent portion could identify a whale call, none could identify an Orca call specifically, nor have heard it in person.
    Not trying to crap on the idea of this sound collection, I’m just hoping they’re able to better clarify what it is they’re actually seeking out.
    Maybe just SOUNDS OF CANADA? Like, not something everyone in Canada could identify, but simply sound clips of things from across Canada?


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