Sonic Kayaks


Together with sound artist Kaffe Matthews, marine researcher Dr. Kirsty Kemp, and underwater noise researcher Dr. Jo Garrett, we have been developing Sonic Kayaks.

This work was recently published in PLoS Biology as 'Sonic Kayaks: Environmental monitoring and experimental music by citizens' including full details on building your own Sonic Kayak and incorporating all the open source software involved.

The Sonic Kayak project emerged from the Bicrophonic Research Institute (BRI), established by Kaffe Matthews and David Griffiths in 2014. Through ten years of international projects the BRI has developed the Sonic Bike whose music changes depending on where and how fast the cyclist goes, played through a pair of bike-mounted speakers and onboard GPS system. Now we are evolving the Sonic Bikes to the coastal marinescape.

The Sonic Kayak is a musical instrument with which to investigate nature. Kayaks rigged with underwater environmental sensors generate live music from the marine world, providing the paddler with an extra dimension of senses with which to explore the underwater climate, while enabling citizens to gather important climate/environmental data.

Sonic Kayaks explained from Bicrophonic Research Institute on Vimeo.

The Sonic Kayaks were launched at the British Science Festival (Swansea, 6-9 September 2016), and photographs of the project are here. We are continuing the development of the kayaks in 2018 as James Duffy joins us to create an open online map of data collected by the kayaks - James will also be looking to add an open source turbidity sensor to the system.


This project was funded by FEAST Cornwall and the British Science Association.