Sonicity: The App

Mobile music project for public transit

Sonicity is an immersive sonic trip through the streets of Ottawa. Discover lush aural landscapes along the city’s bus routes created by some of the most talented local musicians. Commissioned by Artengine, these original compositions reimagine our public transit as a rich soundtrack inspired by the vibrant and textured urban fabric of Ottawa’s neighbourhoods.

Artengine developed Sonicity as a prototype to transform the transit experience through music. Working on your mobile device, Sonicity provides you with a soundtrack created by local Ottawa musicians for their favorite bus routes. It includes soundtracks for route 2, 8, 14, 86, 95 and 97

created by Memetic, Scattered Clouds, Boyhood, Mike Dubue, Adam Saikaley and Nathanael Larochette. The artists each created journey-specific musical pieces that run the length of the bus route to accompany you through the city.


These artists created expansive musical works designed to accompany riders from end to end of each bus route, enhancing their journey through the city.

Sonicity is built for a new musical experience for transit riders in the city. While musical accompaniment is often part of a transit riders experience, Sonicity offers a shared musical experience with a score for bus routes around the city created by some of the most talented local musicians. The application is simple and easy to use. Once downloaded, a transit rider chooses their route and direction, finds their location and the musical score begins.

“People wear headphones as a way to remove themselves from the experience of riding the bus, We thought, why don’t we flip that around and create a way for people to be more and more aware of their experience?”

“I composed at home in my studio, then I’d bounce it down to my iPhone and jump on the bus (to) see if my composition was working. wanted to give the rider/listener a sense of calmness that allowed them to take in their present surroundings.”

How it Works

All of the creative elements of Sonicity have been produced, and a prototype of the experience tested using a simple website. The creative elements primarily consist of the scores produced by local musicians for the route of their choice. For this commission we will design an iOS and Android application to be launched on July 1st along with the Playful Pause sculptural project. The functionality of the application will be fairly simple. It will rely on the user, rather than GPS programming, to select their location for the beginning of the score. This will make the application considerably less expensive, more robust across a variety of mobile devices (including those that do not have integrated GPS) and overall easier to design.

The application opens with a title screen containing all the routes and the artists associated with them. The rider picks the route and direction from the title screen and is presented with a screen listing chapters or landmarks along the route they have selected. The rider picks the landmark closest to them and the score begins at the marker point associated with that landmark. The rider would see timeline of the musical score in the form of the bus route. A dot will follow along the route as the score unfolds, but they can also choose to move themselves forward or backward through the score by dragging the icon on the route.

Listen to the tracks here: