Research at SARC

The multidisciplinary work at SARC evolves and expands as collaborations develop and with variations in our research community.  

Click here to see our PhD Thesis Abstracts

Sounding ConflictSounding Conflict


This project investigates the effects of sound (including sonic arts, participatory music-making and storytelling in theatre) and their distribution through digital media activities. We are analysing how sounds project and ameliorate community experiences, memories and narratives of conflict across cultures and different conflict/post-conflict settings of resistance through to reconciliation.

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Humanising Algorithmic Listening is an AHRC funded network which brings together experts with an interest in the applications and implications of machine listening from diverse disciplines including oral history, sensory ethnography, archive services, computer science, philosophy and music technology. The principle aim is to develop a critical and methodological agenda for the design, development and application of computational methods for audio analysis - listening algorithms - in the future.

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‌Understanding the role of music and sound in conflict transformation:  The Mozambique Case Study

Music making is known to have benefits for social cohesion. As a social practice, music depends on personal interaction, dialogue, agreement on conventions and trust. Previous work on music and conflict has illuminated the different roles that music and sound play in conflict situations (from exacerbating conflict to mitigating it). Moreover, recent scholarship has highlighted the transformative power of music, demonstrating how music making activities could have a direct and positive impact on conflict resolution, peacebuilding and reconciliation by non-violent means. This research project aims at contributing to these ongoing debates by exploring the possibilities of music and sound in conflict transformation in Mozambique through a participatory case study rooted in sonic art methodologies.

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N‌I Hospice Sound Gardens 

The Sonic Arts Research Centre has been commissioned to install and develop content for three sound gardens for the re-built Northern Ireland Hospice building on Somerton Road, Belfast.  

The project will help contribute to create a calm, yet uplifting atmosphere, engage patients and visitors through changing sound environments and create sensory garden spaces through soundscapes.

Sounds of the citySounds of the City‌


This case study, led by Pedro Rebelo, demonstrates how new approaches to collaborative sonic arts lead to increased awareness of the role of sound and its relationship to place in everyday life. 

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at SonoritiesPerformance without Barriers

In 2015, the first collaboration between SARC and DMNI aimed to enable musicians with physical disabilities and learning difficulties to independently compose and perform their own music through custom-built music technology devices. The event was held under the theme “Designing Inclusive Interactions” and brought together student interaction designers with disabled musicians to collaboratively design accessible musical interfaces and perform improvised music with them in an inclusive ensemble performance. 

This year SARC has put together an exciting programme to continue their collaboration with DMNI under the theme “Performance without Barriers”. The programme involves a 6-month long collaborative design project, which started with a design event at SARC (7th - 9th June). Five interaction designers worked with pupils from local special educational needs schools and brain injury rehabilitation charity to collaboratively design customised accessible musical interfaces. Two subsequent phases of this project involved going to the participants to show them progress of the designs and gather feedback. The project ends on November 27th with a showcase performance at The Sonic Lab, SARC. Alongside the design project, an international networking meeting for partners working in the area of inclusive music making, digital design, disability and well-being also took place on 10th June 2016.

Click here for the promotional leaflet.

This collaboration has impacted positively on the quality of life of disabled musicians across Northern Ireland. Participants’ composition and performance skills are enhanced by using accessible musical interfaces through a collaborative design process that matches physical and cognitive abilities to an appropriate gestural interface. Designers and musicians alike are given the opportunity to express their creativity on equal terms as collaborating improviser musicians.

Performance without Barriers 2016 design project will culminate in a public performance at Ireland’s longest running contemporary music festival, the Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music.

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‌Belfast Sound Map

The Belfast Sound Map is an open resource that aims at engaging local communities in capturing everyday sound and hence characterise the soundscape of the city. We encourage not only the submission of sound recordings, but also other forms of experiencing and registering sound, such as text or image. The overall design of this platform facilitates this multiplicity of approaches, while also allowing participants to create their own projects. These are presented as separate, individual layers of recordings within the map.

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Recomposing The CityRecomposing the City

Recomposing the City is a collaborative research group. Our mission is to bring together artists, architects, planners and others in investigating the relationship of sound to urban space. We explore various questions on urban sound through seminars, events, publications, and design projects. Our ultimate aim is to support new design and development projects, and to improve the understanding of sound within architecture studies and architectural practice.

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Distributed Listening

Two theatre companies identified a specific need of engaging young people in listening and in discovering the role of sound in everyday life. The proposal was developed according to those needs and brings a research component (distributed listening) into a portable form in the shape of a newly custom-designed app for mobile devices.

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Installation in Belfast

The Soundscape Park Project


The Soundscape Park Project is a permanent sound installation located in a community garden in East Belfast. Speakers hidden all around the garden are constantly projecting different soundscapes throughout the day. Integrated technology allow visitors to interact with the sounds using motion detection and their smart phones. 

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Sonic Arts Research Centre
School of Arts, English & Languages, Chloreen Park, Belfast, BT9 5HN
Tel: +44(0)28 9097 4867  Email:

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