This is an abstract from the Beyond Listening symposium program.

Sounding COVID-19

Georgios Varoutsos

Saturday 25 November — Presentations

14.30 — 15.00

Documentation of the lecture

During a global pandemic, countries and cities have become literal ghost towns. Once overcrowded with human-generated sounds, it has enhanced perspectives on the urban and natural sound environments. Recording multiple points during the lockdowns, we can chronologically experience the differences imposed by Covid-19 restrictions and how these spaces have changed from the start of the pandemic. The repository focuses on Belfast’s Lockdowns (1-3 in 2020-2021), Exit Strategies (Summers 2020 and 2021), Lifted Restrictions (2022), and Montreal’s lockdown visit in 2020.

This project reflects through an auditory and sonic art perspective how the city sounds without the presence of humans or the normal amount of human density in popular areas in public spaces of Belfast and a few locations in Montreal. These are represented in audio recordings, soundwalking experiences, soundscape composition, and soundmaps contributions. A total of 91 audio soundscapes and 27 locations have been documented.


A timeline of the various stages of lockdowns centered on Arthur Square. It is a central location in Belfast that frequently hosts various interactions between human, urban, and natural sounds. This piece utilises the Sounding Covid-19 Repository to create a listening experience that conveys an impression of the ‘sound (s) of Covid’. It is intended to highlight and allow a reflection of the circumstances encountered by using sound as a form of documentation on such unprecedented events. The piece contains specific sounds that reflect the state of government-issued regulations and the fluctuation of authoritative control in our urban spaces.


Georgios Varoutsos is a sound artist and researcher from Montreal, Canada. He is completing his PhD at Queen’s University Belfast with SARC: Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Sound and Music. He received a Master’s in Research in Arts & Humanities with a concentration in Sonic Arts from Queen’s University Belfast, passing with distinction. Additionally, he earned a BFA with Distinction in Electroacoustic Studies and a BA in Anthropology from Concordia University in Montreal.

As an artist, he explores the field of sound through an extensive range of projects which have been presented globally in the form of concerts, installations, exhibitions, and presentations. His audio creations derive from different inspirations such as field recordings, digital recordings, amplified sound materials, audio processing, synthesis, and experimental techniques. He is presently interested in research and practice involving urban arts, spatial audio, sonic arts, socially engaged arts, and themes around sounds, places, and spaces.

Georgios Varoutsos, photo: J.S.