Sounds of Nepal

Sounds of Nepal

Paso A Paso: a song built from the sounds of the Nepalese Himalayas

It was late at night somewhere along the Everest Base Camp trail.  We were snuggled deep into our sleeping bags, our only defense against a brutal cold.  I was thinking about the project I was working on: capturing sounds of the high Himalayas.  The sound of wind whipping through a valley, rushing mountain streams, the soft ding of prayer wheels, the gentle tinkling of yak train bells, even the crunch of the trail beneath our feet.

I’m not sure where it came from, but suddenly the idea entered my mind to build a song from these sounds.  How interesting would it be to create a song, in which every bit of sound comes from the landscape and was recorded there?  The humming melody from Paso A Paso immediately filled my mind, and I reached my arm out into the cold to grab my phone to record it.

The next morning, I shared the idea of Paso A Paso with José and he was fully on board.  For the next two weeks, we worked together to capture the video and audio for this piece.  The vocals and ukelele were recorded at various points along the trail.  The percussive elements consist of our footsteps on the trail, prayer bells, a river, a piece of glass I found along the path, and the deep rumble of a glacier.  José filmed, edited, and produced the music video, building it with the video we captured specifically for the project as well as the vast body of film and timelapses he painstakingly captured during our trek.

To read more about this recording, including the song lyrics, visit here.

The Sound of a Glacier, Himalayas, Nepal

Glaciers are rivers of slowly moving ice.  While we cannot see this movement, it is ever-present and ever-active.  As we were crossing the Khumbu Glacier, we were struck by the fact that although we could not see this process, we could hear it.  Out came the microphone, and here you have the sounds of a living, moving, creaking and groaning glacier.  It is mesmerizing.  To read more about this recording, visit here.

Teahouse Chatter in Namche Bazaar, Nepal

Imagine outside it is dark and cold.  The sun has left this 3440m-high Himalayan town, and with it all the warmth it brings.  But inside the teahouse a fire is going, the light is warm, the wooden interior covered in brightly colored paintings and weavings.  The benches lining the walls are draped with decorative rugs.  The teahouse is a warm welcome for travelers either descending from higher altitudes or those coming up from the valleys.

I love that you can hear the different languages spoken in one small place, high up in the Himalayas.  People from all edges of the Earth congregate here to see these mighty mountains.  You can hear the sip of tea, the conversations of new friends, even the occasional cough of lungs still adjusting to the cold and altitude.  If you listen closely, you may even hear me writing this.