Around the world, new restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have radically changed daily life.
A number of photo essays have already captured the eerie emptiness of usually bustling cities. And a new interactive map called #StayHomeSounds captures how life under coronavirus lockdown sounds across the globe through dozens of crowdsourced recordings.
The map is part of Oxford, U.K.-based sound artist Stuart Fowkes’s Cities and Memory project, which collects and maps sounds from around the world. Sounds posted to the #StayHomeSounds map include bird calls recorded in Vancouver and Phnom Penh, rainfall in India, Australia, and Sicily, and the sounds of children playing around the world. Another common theme: people applauding and otherwise giving thanks to healthcare workers.
“This is obviously a unique moment in our lifetimes, and that’s being reflected in sound too—our towns and cities have never sounded like they do under the global lockdown,” Fowkes said in a statement. “You can hear it in everything from simple things like less traffic, or how we can now hear more birdsong and wildlife, through to how people all over the world are coming together through song and music.”
Visitors to the site can click a point on the map to hear sounds recorded there and see a brief description. If they wish, they can also submit recordings from where they’re sheltering from the virus, using their phones and a form posted to the site. (Fowkes urges participants not to leave their homes or other safe places just to capture sound).
Other collections of audio in the City and Memories project include the sounds of protests around the world, recordings of nature, the distinctive sounds of the London Underground, and religious sounds from an assortment of cultures.
The new project is intended to help share and capture what the world sounds like under the unprecedented wave of stay-at-home orders now in effect.
“#StayHomeSounds is designed to help us share something of how it sounds and how it feels as we all adjust to a new way of living, and also to document this unique moment in modern life for posterity,” Fowkes said.