Beginning in 2013, undergraduate students in Dr. McGraw’s and Love’s classes at the University of Richmond began documenting Richmond’s soundscape by mapping “sound” and “music” points. Many of these include linked audio.

As this data set as grown over time, we have begun to see how Richmond’s soundscape reflects its social geography, which correlates with historical patterns of segregation and city planning (i.e. the placement of highways).  This means that one person’s sonic experience of Richmond may be very different from another’s. There are many Richmonds; they intersect and overlap one another, and some are more visible and audible than others. The social geography of a city like Richmond is not only defined by simple racial segregation. Its population is more comprehensively sorted out, to quote Dr. Mindy Thompson Fullilove, such that rich, middle-class, poor; young, middle-aged, old; Christians, Buddhists, Muslims; jazz fans, metal-heads, hipsters etc. do not mix or interact very much.

This also means that the maps linked below should not be understood as transparent and exhaustive maps of music and sound in Richmond. They are just as much sound maps as they are maps of where University of Richmond students feel comfortable going in town. 

A fully interactive version of the map can be found HERE.

(Unfortunately, some of the linked audio from older points were mistakenly deleted by the University administration in 2019. Those points are retained in the map below because the notes provide some indication of the soundscape at that particular place and time.)

Pandemic Soundscapes

Students in McGraw’s Fall 2020 First Year Seminar collected points capturing the soundscape of the COVID-19 pandemic on the University of Richmond campus. From the sounds of covid testing, coughs and sniffles, to the buzzing of ubiquitous sanitizer dispensers, students captured the unusual quietness of an American university during a global pandemic.