City As Augmented Aurality


Sonic Meta-ontology was an Augmented Aurality project started in 2011 at the NOVARS Research Centre, University of Manchester. It focused on the so-called Augmented Aurality City Trips in the context of Manchester, a city situated in the North West of England. 'Augmenting the Aurality' of Cities can lead to a better understanding of the personality traits of an urban area by using sounds associated to a place to provide alternative readings of visual information. The project, sponsored by Cities@manchester included a number or compositions and soundwalks exclusively created for the city of Manchester, which combined music and sounds with areas of urbanity and their myths.


Manchester's 'Sonic Meta-ontology' explored whether there is really such thing as a 'Manchester sound' and if so, what is it, can we experience it, and can we understand it? Substantive empirical investigation takes place in partnership will local agents and artists in the region, which will look into the creation, identity, and survival of the real truth of Manchester's Sound.
Geolocated Audioguide Tours make use of creative exploration of smartphone technologies and GPS.


Our first ever Audioguide Tour in collaboration with NoTours, Escoitar and Cities@manchester included a single city tour to experience five compositions in chain created for the occasion.

  1. Brona Martin (Ireland) - "Bus 192", ... experience Oxford Road are a dynamic score!
  2. Suk Jun Kim (S. Korea) - a "sonic walk alongside Manchester Canal ... I arrived at Telgwahve, which in the tongue of Hasla means'"Weeping River' "...
  3. Mark Pilkington (UK) - "Peterloo"- a contemporary sound version of 'Peterloo's massacre' based on the historic event that happened in Manchester UK in 1819.
  4. Ricardo Climent (Spain) - 'Hu' - a Sonic puzzle in China town.
  5. Ignacio Pecino (Spain) - "Picadilly Gardens" and the inaginary street musicians


audioguides manchester


Recommendations for participants: To avoid unnecessary risks and to ensure a confortable tour: - Bring suitable shoes for the trip (e.g. the canal way may be slippery)


Noise Upstairs

Venue: Cosmo Rodewald, Martin Harris Centre, MARTIN HARRIS CENTRE FOR MUSIC AND DRAMA.
For the first time ever, The Noise Upstairs (1) & MANTIS Diffusion System Collective will join forces for a unique Sonic experience. A Live Improvisation night diffused live plugged to babyMANTIS ©, a newly developed laptop-based large surround sound system designed and created by Postgraduate Students at University of Manchester (this time running 24 genelec speakers) based on David Berezan's MANTIS System (since 2004)
(1) The Noise Upstairs is an improv collective which runs free-improv jam nights in Manchester and Sheffield, as well as putting on other improv related events. The basic premise is that anyone can turn up and join in by putting their name in the hat. Names are pulled out, ensembles formed, and hearts broken.
The Noise Upstairs rocks MANTIS Diffusion system (TNU are Richard Knight, Dave Birchall, Hervé Perez, Rodrigo Constanzo, Ben Cottrell, Simon Prince), plus fixed media works by Rob Bental, Manuella Blackburn, Haruka Hirayama, Lee Fraser, Brona Martin and Constantin Pop. With special guests Gavin Osborn (Flute), Paul Michael Labelle (Guitar) and Richard Scott.

18:00 - Concert One: Meta-ontologies two; live and fixed media works and live improvisations by The Noise upstairs diffused live across the MANTIS surround sound theatre (Cosmo Rodewald), and MANTIS Artists.
The Noise Upstairs I , ca 10 minutes / (Rodrigo Constanzo, Richard Knight, Dave Birchall, Ben Cottrell, Herve Perez) - Live Diffusion: MANTIS
Cyan (2011) For Stereo Tape, 7:38 by Rob Bentall (*)
From The Dark Waters for fixed media 12:00 by Andrew Andrew Garbett (*)
The Noise Upstairs II, ca 10 minutes / (Rodrigo Constanzo, Richard Knight, Dave Birchall, Ben Cottrell, Herve Perez)- Live Diffusion: MANTIS
Switched on (2011) for fixed media 7:00 by Manuella Blackburn (*)
(*) world premiere

19:30 - Concert Two: Meta-ontologies three: Premiere of new works by Manchester Artists, with Gavin Osborn (Flute), Paul Michael Labelle (Guitar), MANTIS Artists and live improvisations by The Noise upstairs and guest Richard Scott
Tints of July (2011) for Flute, Guitar and a Computer ca. 10:00 by Haruka Hirayama (*)
Ply for fixed media 10:03 by Lee Fraser (*)
The Noise Upstairs III, ca 10 minutes / (Rodrigo Constanzo, Richard Knight, Dave Birchall, Ben Cottrell, Herve Perez) - Live Diffusion: MANTIS
192 for fixed media 7:22 by Brona Martin (*)
empty rooms (2011) for fixed media 10:27 by Constantin Popp (*)
The Noise Upstairs IV and guest (Richard Scott), ca 15 minutes / (Rodrigo Constanzo, Richard Knight, Dave Birchall, Ben Cottrell, Herve Perez) - Live Diffusion: MANTIS

(*) world premiere

Tickets £6 / £5 / £4 for each concert 2-concert rate: £9 / £7.50 / £4.50 Entrance to the 4pm event is free on production of a ticket for the other concerts

The Noise Upstairs Bios:

Richard Knight has been using mixers since a young age, but only realised their potential as expressive instruments within the past few years. During this time he has amassed a formidable collection of audio mixers and investigated their curious musical possibilities. He's interested in using their potential for improvisation, precisely structured 'techno' music and the diverse area between.

Dave Birchall was born in Leicester and started playing the guitar there in 1995. He moved to Manchester in 1999 and still live here. His work as a musician has been in several areas: in improvising within and without structures and in writing and arranging music. At present he am focused on working on developing ideas for improvising with guitar. He has also worked with zines, promoting gigs and in education.

Hervé Perez plays the landscape and the urban environment alike – metal bridges and wooden floors, wisps of water clapotis and wind pipes…
It started with rattling the railings and the next thing you know you are drumming public benches. An offence well worth the penalty of eternal silence. Confined in the motifs of muffled footsteps and veiled hushes. absence of thoughts. field recordings of emptiness. an architecture of sound sculpted to reveal the harmonic imprints of sacred spaces and those corruptly filed in the forgotten folds of consumed phat.

Rodrigo Constanzo is a Spanish-American performer and composer living in Manchester, England. He is an avid improviser and performs regularly using home made electro-acoustic, and modified electronic instruments. He has performed at the FUTURESONIC and Manchester Jazz Festivals in Manchester, the SOUND Festival in Aberdeen, and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. He has released several CDs including an improv duo CD with Pierre Alexandre Tremblay, and most recently, I AM YOUR DENSITY, a large ensemble improv composition which includes the graphic score with it. He is currently working towards an MA in Electroacoustic Composition at the University of Manchester and involved in several projects including Takahashi’s Shellfish Concern, an improv based performance-art group. He also co-runs The Noise Upstairs, an improv collective and label which puts on monthly nights and quarterly workshops in Manchester and Sheffield.

Ben Cottrell is a composer and saxophonist. He studied on the prestigious Joint Course between the University of Manchester and the Royal Northern College of Music, where his principal study was contemporary classical saxophone. Ben is the musical director of the Beats & Pieces Big Band, which he founded in 2008 as a vehicle for his own compositions and arrangements, and since then the band has established a reputation as one of the UK’s most exciting emerging jazz groups. In March 2011, Beats & Pieces were named as the winners of the European Young Artists’ Jazz Award, one of the continent’s major jazz prizes for emerging musicians, held as part of the Burghausen International Jazz Festival in Germany.

Simon Prince is one half of the improvised flute & piano duet "Our Liberated Winter" & is a saxophonist in the group "Wolf Scarers, who will perform at The Noise Upstairs in July. He directs Oldham Youth Contemporary Music Group & is currently working on a contemporary ensemble take on the music of Eric Dolphy.