Hot off the Press! Bicycle Music Festival Photos

The Toronto Bicycle Music Festival rolled across the city this past weekend. A colorful throng of cycling enthusiasts pedaled their way through Toronto’s streets and parks with a motley assortment of amplifiers, guitar-strumming minstrels and small children in tow. Enjoy these photos by Jennie Green (click to enlarge image). We captured some fantastic sounds! Videos coming soon.

The Bicycle Music Festival hops on board!!

We’re delighted to announce that the Toronto Bicycle Music Festival has joined forces with us to create music and recordings for A Toronto Symphony. Scheduled for September 15 this year, the wonderfully quirky festival enlists dozens of musicians and music-lovers to cycle their way from neighborhood to neighborhood, stopping to so bands can perform at various locations. All the electricity is generated by pedal power!! Check out the video:

You can find out more about the festival here. Performers at this year’s festival will include Snowblink, Gentleman Reg, Lemon Bucket Orkestra and Rae Spoon. We hope you can join the fun and help capture some fresh Sounds of Toronto for us!

Join us at the ALL CAPS! Island Festival August 11-12

Tod will be attending the  ALL CAPS! Island Festival on August 11th and 12th, a festival of Indie music.  We have several fun activities planned for Sunday the 12th, and we hope to see you at the festival so you can be a part of this next step.  First, any interested members of the audience or performers will come together to listen to a select few of the submitted Toronto sounds and then begin to reflect these sounds in actual music.  Tod will be working with this group to give suggestions, and they will work to get as close as possible to those sounds using instruments in both traditional and non-traditional ways.  During this time, the bands will also have a unique opportunity to join in on the project.  By setting up a recording studio at the festival, we will be able to collect the one chord, sound, or short phrase that represents each individual band.  The idea here is similar to with the sounds in that we hope these clips will be instantly recognizable to any of each bands’ fans.  This should be a great weekend to begin to both listen to Toronto music and to take the next steps of the project together; we hope to see you there!

For more information about “A Toronto Symphony: Concerto for Composer and City,” visit

For more information about the ALL CAPS! festival, visit

Sound Inspirations via NPR

We have been receiving some terrific “sounds of Toronto” and suggestions of sounds, so thanks to all of you who have sent things to us. Many others have contacted us to say that they will be sending sounds, so we really look forward to listening to those.

As you are thinking of the most typical Toronto sounds to send or to tell us about, I thought that you might be interested in taking a listen to this short radio piece that – coincidentally – popped up on National Public Radio in the U.S. on Monday.

I nearly drove my car into a tree when I heard it, since it has so much relevance to the kinds of sounds we are trying to collect. Listen here.

What I think is so interesting about this NPR piece is that people identified not only typical but also really unusual sounds from their respective cities, from all over America. For instance, someone identified the signature sound of New Orleans not as music spilling out of jazz clubs, but rather as the sound of the steam calliope on the riverboat Natchez. Never would have thought of that!

Steam calliope on the riverboat Natchez

I hope you enjoy listening to this NPR clip, and also hope that it might give you an idea or two of sounds you know in Toronto that will surprise and delight, and will also allow all of us – from the city and from afar – to listen to Toronto in a new way.

Look forward very much to hearing from – and to hearing – you.

– Tod

P.S. For a reminder of how to send us sounds, or suggestions of sounds, see our Launch post. To subscribe to this blog, click here.

Your Sounds: Sam at Yonge-Dundas Square

Sam’s contribution to “A Toronto Symphony: Concerto for Composer and City” is the soundscape at Yonge-Dundas Square. You too can send us your soundscapes of Toronto. Post a video on YouTube, capture sounds on your cellphone and upload the mp3 to Soundcloud, YouTube or direct to Facebook, and share the links via our Facebook page! Tweet it to @ComposerCity and we’ll share your #SoundsofToronto far and wide. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need technical help finding your way around all this social media technology.

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Join Me for A Toronto Symphony

Welcome to the A Toronto Symphony project. Over the coming months, I am inviting you – the citizens of Toronto – to collaborate with me to compose a new symphony which will be premiered by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on March 9, 2013, at the New Creations Festival. Some of the music will be by you, some by me, and some shaped by us together. My hope is that we will create something that neither you nor I could have done without each other, and that will be surprising, stimulating, and beautiful, a musical portrait about – and by – Toronto.

Take a look at the intro video and see below for how to participate. Scroll down for the latest postings about our activities and ways for you to get involved. Please subscribe so that we can send you alerts. (See links at right to subscribe via email, RSS, Facebook or Twitter.)

Thank you so much for taking an interest. Let’s get started!

– Tod

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There are many ways to get involved!

Connect and collaborate! Our Facebook community page is where we will all share our creations, ask questions, and form groups to collaborate and create new sounds.
Subscribe to me on YouTube Share your video of what Toronto sounds like!

  1. Upload your video to YouTube (you’ll need an account)
  2. Post your video on the community Facebook wall
  3. Or send a link to your video to
Share your sound recording of what Toronto sounds like!

  1. Upload your audio recording to Soundcloud (you’ll need an account)
  2. Post your recording on the community Facebook wall
  3. Or send a link to your recording to

A Graphic Score by Peter Torpey

Most pieces of music have a score, which shows musicians what to play or helps listeners to listen. For A Toronto Symphony, my colleague Peter Torpey and I have created a score which will help us all to compose and to imagine the shape and sections of the piece that we are creating together. This score tells the “story” of the piece, shows what the sections or “movements” will be, and describes the basic way that we will collaborate to make the symphony.

Here’s the graphic score of A Toronto Symphony, and below the picture is a description of how I imagine each section. This may evolve as we share our music and discuss the project, as a medieval cathedral evolved from blueprint to reality based on the contributions of every sculptor, stonemason and bricklayer. Off we go:

And here is my description of the sections that are shown in the graphic score:

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