In the late 1980s, the Canadian Electroacoustic Community (CEC) decided to build a system to allow the playback of works in its possession. The initial structure was designed with a clear vision of future developments, and from the late 1980s to about 2003 the collection grew and continued to be documented by the CEC.

The first public version of Sonus dates from 2003, funded by the Canada Council for the Arts in two stages through their Targeted Initiatives programme. The original interface allowed for searches within the database and provided biographies, programme notes and work details to accompany pieces users could listen to online.

In 2017, thanks to the generous support of the SOCAN Foundation and DIFFUSION i MéDIA, the CEC was able to substantially update the user interface for Sonus.ca and implement a number of infrastructural supports. Improved sound quality, the development of user accounts and a media player that continues to play while navigating the site, and a streamlined submission process are among the most important enhancements. The new design went online in April 2018.

In 2019, the CEC was awarded important funding through the Canada Council’s Sector Innovation and Development programme that made a further stage of upgrades possible. From June to December 2019, information about the works and artists found in Sonus was updated and expanded, further improvements were made to interface and design elements, and metadata implementation now makes it easier for search engines to parse and present Sonus entries in results.

Sonus remains unique in terms of the sound quality and free, uninhibited access it offers to an international repository of electroacoustic, sound art, computer music, glitch and other digital sound practices.

[Last updated May 2023]