Celebrating the Tour de France in Cambridge with Cycle of Songs


5 minute read
Alumni: Charlie Harman

Alumni: Charlie Harman

Marketing Manager

Digital Insights


Calvium is extremely excited to be the chosen app developers working once again with Pilot Theatre and starting a new relationship with Historyworks to produce Cycle of Songs: an audio map of Cambridge devised by Helen Weinstein from her idea for a walking sound poem, funded by Arts Council England, a commission managed by Cambridge City Council. Utilising our Apptrails service, the mobile application will allow users to cycle a route which is punctuated by original songs, revealing untold hidden stories from the city’s history.


With a weeks worth of live celebrations to coincide with Stage 3 of the Tour de France (which starts in Cambridge on Monday 7 July)  the app is being developed to allow people to hear the works, stories and celebrations long after the live event has finished, providing a lasting digital legacy for the city.

The songs that will be played will be developed with local choirs, schools, artists and members of the community in Cambridge, supported by some of the city’s leading composers and musicians.

Calvium Apptrails is the distillation of over 10 years experience in creating rich sound walks, tours and location-based games.  The process and tools support the design and development of media rich experiences that respond to and relate to place.

For outdoor spaces we can harness GPS, a freely available service, that can report your location even when you aren’t connected to the internet. Great for remote countryside locations or for tourists who prefer to remain offline.

For indoor spaces we can use iBeacons to deliver a hands free experience or QR codes for a more directed interface.

The technology platform behind Apptrails comprises:

·       The Soundwalk Designer

·       The AppTrail builder

·       The AppTrail Tester

The Soundwalk Designer is an online service that acts as both a content management system and soundscape design tool.

The Soundwalk Designer supports the concept of different layers that encapsulate different behaviours for pools of sound depending on artistic preferences. These can be subtly different depending on the location, the density and nature of the end experience and the lifetime of the project. We can support subtle mixing of sounds between layers, fading out of stories when you leave a region of interest and vibrations when there is something to attend to on the screen.We can also support citywide trails where each point of interest can have text, image, video in addition to an audio story or song.

No matter how complex the end app is the process for the customer is always simple. They draw regions on a map to indicate the location for one of their sound pools or points of interest. Associated with that region they upload the required media and text files.


The AppTrail builder is a set of automated processes that extracts the customer data from the Soundwalk designer and automatically fuses it into the AppTrail tester app.

The AppTrail Tester is a fully working app that allows the customer to walk around their chosen location to see how well their content fits and responds to the actual environment. It means that customers can make adjustments to both the positions of their soundscapes and the design of the media content before committing to expensive final media production. This early testing is vital for any location aware project as the environment can have such a profound effect on the accuracy of GPS location reporting. It also means that the customer can make well informed decisions on the graphical design of the app which we then incorporate into the test app until it becomes the final app that gets submitted to the app stores. The process means that we can support customers worldwide.

Helen Weinstein, Co-Director of Cambridge-based Historyworks said:

“Historyworks is thrilled to be working with artists and communities to produce an Art work for the Cambridge leg of the Tour De France.  We will be making quality audio products that celebrate the history and identity of the city through words and songs, producing a new aural landscape out of found sounds woven with poetic narratives.  It is very exciting that we will co-creating an audio soundscape of the music and story-telling surrounding the route through the city which will be an important digital legacy”.

Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, added:

“It will reflect the city’s rich arts and cultural heritage and outstanding reputation for new technology by enabling audiences to access the nine choral performances – and the stories behind them – through a new app – ensuring the legacy of this special occasion remains accessible to everyone, both now and in the future. “

Pilot Theatre is a multi-platform theatre organisation delivering critically acclaimed work regionally, nationally and internationally.  Pilot aim to inspire creativity and new ways of thinking and are strategic innovators in the field of digital networks and leaders in the delivery and distribution of work for, by and with young people.

Historyworks is well known for delivering authentic and closely researched stories and audio dramas that are based on meticulous research. The team at Historyworks therefore has a wealth of experience in creating unique and ambitious sound projects, and delivering highly polished and professional products.

Here at Calvium, we are particularly excited about Cycle of Songs because it’s an example of using original music that is going to be located in a place, which will build on our apptrails repertoire in new and exciting ways. Furthermore we are thrilled to be able to offer the app as a permanent celebration of Cycle of Songs, long after the live events have taken place.

Marcus Romer, Artistic Director of Pilot Theatre said –

“We are delighted to be working with Jo and her team at Calvium. It is a real partnership of innovation and an opportunity to create something very new for audiences to use and explore the city.”

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