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Posted by on Apr 7, 2014 | 3 comments

Sonic Movement

An interesting investigation into how cars ‘should’ sound.

While our cities are in continuous visual and tactile evolution, our sonic landscape is primitive and disordered. With the dawn of silent electric vehicles comes a need for pedestrian warning sounds. This represents an opportunity to reflect upon the noise of our streets today and fantasize on what the future of our cities could sound like.

Semcon, in a unique collaboration between its Design and Acoustics divisions, with pioneering music/art duo Holly Herndon and Mat Dryhurst, invite you to experience the project initially premiered as an installation during Frankfurt Motorshow 2013.

The result of this innovative fusion, SONIC MOVEMENT imagines a new paradigm in the audible character of the city.


  1. I’m a bit bored with all this fascination around CARS. There is so much fetishism in sound design applied to this, more obvious example being manufacturer’s doors’ sound design.

    We could live in a environment with less noise, reduced these sounds that pollute everyone’s serenity, consciously or unconsciously (we all sleep better in a calm place), and people are now thinking about producing artificial noises to electric cars?? Why not on bikes in this case?

    First, electrical cars produce noise. At moderate to high speeds, tires are far noisier than engines. And even at slow speed, humans can handle a change in their environment: it’s just about the time of a generation until nobody associates the sound of a classic car to danger anymore. And it’s not so complicated for our generation to move our head before crossing the street…

    So why the hell these guys want to bring new noises into our cities?! We have to replace their Tron or Blade Runner records collection with some John Cage experiment about SILENCE.

  2. Conceptually intriguing, but I really didn’t find the “result” of a mess of electronic choir on our streets a very positive idea.
    Directional warning sounds and something auditively warning pedestrians and cyclists of speed change is pretty obvious, but adding some funky humming? Really doesn’t seem like a great idea to me.
    The less background noise in general the lower the warning sounds can be and still be effective and audible.
    And electric cars do make noise. Just not loud enough in today’s noisy world where you can’t hear the electric cars mostly because of older louder combustion engines.

  3. electric vehicles will get new sounddesign for sure, but i don’t think the designer will have the general sound of the city in mind when they design it. i think it will be all about the pleasure of the driver of the car. nothing less – nothing more.

    Very much like a ringtone for a cellphone.

    And i don’t think a lot of people will choose a electronic choir when they can have the sound of a V8 instead.

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