Trams in Melbourne: a soundmark.

With the homogeneity of so many western cities it’s nice to know that Melbourne’s trams provide it with a sonic identity, a soundmark. When I first visited Melbourne I really enjoyed listening to their smooth acceleration away from traffic lights, their sound-print being much “cleaner” compared to other forms of traffic on the road.


The sounds within a tram are quite a different matter – announcements are made through bad quality speakers, windows rattle, and the sound of the wheels on the tracks is jarring. This clip presents a sample of these, with warnings of ticket inspectors, passengers boarding, and quiet moments at traffic lights:

Thankfully Melbournites have made trams the fastest growing mode of transport in the city – without their distinctive sound Melbourne could easily blend into the uniformity of so many modern cities around the world.

7 thoughts on “Trams in Melbourne: a soundmark.

  1. Nice! I like city transport sounds, especially vintage and “flaccid”. Do you know the age of these trams?

    “Bad quality speakers” are not so bad in comparison with what might be in ex-USSR, believe me 🙂 I will try to make a record someday.


    1. I thought you might like these recordings, based on some of the Parisian train stations sounds that you’ve collected. The trip away was far too short, but I’ve already got my eye on Sydney early next year: hydrophonic recordings at the harbour by the Opera House.


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