Your Ocean Sound - Portrait: Francisca Rocha Gonçalves

Christel Clerc

By Christel Clerc
10.06.2021 | 10 minutes reading time

In spring of this year, we organized the hackathon „Your Ocean Sound“ . 130 audio files with biotic and abiotic ocean sounds inspired the participants to create almost 30 compositions. In this post, we introduce you to participant Francisca Rocha Gonçalves.

Francisca Rocha Gonçalves - The Noise Parade

Francisca Rocha Gonçalves - The Noise Parade

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Licensed under: CC BY-ND | Open in data portal


Music has always played a key role in Francisca’s life and she learned to play classical piano at an early age. As she reached for her primary instrument in her professional practice in veterinary medicine, the stethoscope, she discovered another dimension of the meaning of sound: as vital signs.

Even though my background is in biological sciences, with a degree in veterinary medicine, sound was a crucial cue in my daily practice. The stethoscope was our primary instrument to access vital signs.

—Francisca Rocha Gonçalves

Photo: Eduardo Rocha Gonçalves
Photo: Eduardo Rocha Gonçalves

Francisca has been producing music since 2005. As SINØ, she DJs in the nightclubs of Berlin and Porto. Now, the artist/researcher composes pieces and she designed an immersive installation that makes anthropogenic underwater noise and soundscapes audible to all.

By combining her interests in sound, technology, art and science, she aims to raise conservational awareness in society and promote environmental education through artistic practices and sound art. Her great passion for biology and music led her to search for synergies between nature and sound. By combining these two worlds, she tries to find new musical approaches, not only for musical compositions but also for live performances.

Her research focuses on how we can use artistic means to convey the experience of oceanic soundscapes and their disturbance by humans. To this end, she completed a master’s degree in sound design and interactive music. She is currently working on a PhD in digital media, creating audiovisual and interactive content in an artistic context.

Through her music, she expresses herself, conveys emotions and explores her creative side. Her sound installations and music enable conversations, and her leitmotif is to reach people with the universal language of sound.

After the hackathon, we asked Francisca about her composition and motivation for participating in this competition.

Francisca, tell us more about your submitted composition.

The core message of The Noise Parade is to raise awareness about noise pollution. I approach the concept of masking, which is one of the main problems with underwater noise. While biological or geological noise is one of the natural elements of an aquatic environment and all marine life is well adapted to it, anthropogenic noise and human disturbance have begun to affect some aspects of animal communication. These newly introduced anthropogenic sounds disrupt the underwater environment because they largely affect the frequency ranges of communication for many marine species. My piece attempts to describe this problem in detail. The composition contains selected high and low-frequency biological sounds that reveal an acoustic niche where all frequencies can be perceived because each animal has its specific range. Then all the anthropogenic sounds emerge and present a challenge to hear the original biological sounds, which are no longer perceptible in some parts of the piece due to the overlap of the same frequencies.

Narratives play a central role in this process. The piece is carefully planned, and the sounds are all chosen, not just which sounds, but when they appear and why, keeping the main narrative in mind.

Oil rig as a source of anthropogenic underwater noise, photo by Clyde Thomas on Unsplash
Oil rig as a source of anthropogenic underwater noise, photo by Clyde Thomas on Unsplash

Wie war Deine Erfahrung mit dem Hackathon? Was hat Dir daran besonders gefallen und was nicht?

It was a great experience and a nice challenge. It was enriching to have access to and work with sounds that are usually hard to get hold of. I learned new things about bioacoustics, as some of the biological sounds presented were new to me. It was pretty easy to use the data portal.

What sounds would you like to have in the data portal?

I would like to see more anthropogenic sounds. But I think it’s helpful to make available all kinds of sounds that are only accessible in certain research situations or in remote areas, so it’s hard to get them elsewhere. These sounds are fascinating and provide a connection to these remote places so that people can learn more about them.

How did you become aware of Your Ocean Sound?

Through a friend. Anna is a marine biologist who works with underwater robotics, and she is familiar with my work regarding noise pollution awareness. She sent me the call.

Why did you decide to participate?

The topic has a connection to my research. Also, I had the opportunity to explore and work with these sounds. For me it was interesting to be able to use the sounds provided.

Was hat Dich besonders an den Unterwassergeräuschen gereizt?

Die anthropogenen Geräusche. Der Zugang zu Aufnahmen von Rammarbeiten oder seismischen Untersuchungen kann ziemlich knifflig sein und für mich war es sehr interessant, mit ihnen zu arbeiten.

What particularly attracted you to the underwater sounds?

The anthropogenic sounds. Accessing sounds of pile driving work or seismic surveys can be quite tricky and for me it was very interesting to work with them.

You can learn more about Francisca on her webseite .

Wanna dance? Then listen to some of her sets on SoundCloud

In the next blog post, we’ll introduce you to student duo Alexandra Tamayo and Cathal Kerins. Their composition is a tribute to the giant manta rays that are endangered as a result of the fishing industry around the Galapagos Islands.