About my soundscapes
Soundscapes transport us to another part of the world. When you close your eyes and listen to a soundscape, you are are lifted up from your present location and placed right within a new place.
For me, soundscapes are meditative. I put on headphones, close my eyes, and spend a brief bit of time transported across the world. I hope you enjoy these little journeys as much as I do.
SOUNDS OF CHINA
The Sound of the Dragon Boat Festival
Southern China’s Dragon Boat Festival is loud, violent, and colorful.
It is a festival with nearly 2000 years of history, in honor of poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC). Team after team rows down the river, powering pencil-thin, decorative canoes with intricate dragons carved into the bow and stern.
As they row, the teams chant, beat drums, and set off deafening firecrackers. Crowds, and even a musician or two, gather along the river to watch the boats as they float by.
The Sound of a Growing Nation
Guangzhou was a vastly important nexus of the Ancient Maritime Silk Road. HuangPu Port played a key role as a bustling port in the region, beginning in the Song Dynasty (960~1279AD). Today it no longer serves as a key trading center, but the architecture and village’s seclusion remain beautifully preserved.
Taken from across the river from HuangPu Port at dusk, this recording captures the constant hum of a village now dedicated to local fishing, construction, and – during the day – tourism. José and I were there and had his clarinet, so at the very end, you’ll hear a little addition he added to the soundscape.
SOUNDS OF NEPAL
The Sound of a Nepalese Teahouse
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.
The Sound of a Glacier
The sound of a glacier moving is mesmerizing and humbling. We were crossing the Ngozumpa Glacier in the Nepalese Himalaya, when we passed close to a glacial pool and heard a curious sound. It sounded like the cross between a gulp and a boom.
“Wow, could that be the ice?” we asked each other, wide-eyed. We stayed silent for a few moments and sure enough, the odd noise happened again, louder this time.
Those who know me know I am fascinated by geology. So naturally, I was very excited our trek would lead us over a glacier. I was already primed to take home many photographs. Never did I imagine, however, that I would have the opportunity to hear and record the sound of a glacier. As we stood there and listened to the odd booms and gurgles of the glacier, the idea came into both our heads at the same time.
“Babe, you should record this,” he said looking over at me. “Yep, already on it,” I said, already reaching into my jacket to grab my recorder. In 5 minutes I was off the path, sliding down a slope of loose rock, and finding a place to position the microphone directly across the glacial pool.
The soundscape above is the audio I captured coming from within the Ngozumpa Glacier. You can hear the tinkle of melting ice, the strange booming sound that still confounds me, the occasional stone slipping down the ice cliff. What is most amazing to me, however, is what I discovered after the fact.
Two weeks later I was in a hotel room in India, working on organizing and mixing all the audio I had captured in Nepal. I came to this clip and began working on balancing its frequencies. As I was working, I tried increasing the low-end bass frequencies, those frequencies that we could not hear standing on the glacier, but my microphone could. What emerged had my geology-loving, glacier-fascinated self sitting full back in her chair, absolutely mesmerized. You can very clearly hear the deep and powerful sound of the glacier grinding along its path.
This is absolutely the soundscape I am most proud of capturing so far; I hope you find it as fascinating and powerful as I do.