East meets West in Istanbul’s sounds

East meets West in Istanbul’s sounds

Come with us to Istanbul in Turkey – the city where eastern and western cultures come together, something very evident in the soundscapes of its sacred spaces, as you can hear today.

First of all, we visit one of the world’s most famous sacred spaces, the Hagia Sophia, with this recording from Kamen Nedev, who writes:

“This is a “sacred space” only up to a point – the Hagia Sophia was desacralised a long time ago, and is nowadays a museum.

“This is a sound ambience recording done right under the dome of the basilica – so, no chants, no calls to prayer, just the sound environment of about a hundred tourists scrolling under the dome and gazing upwards.”

James Kent took this approach to reimagining the Hagia Sophia:

“The original recording of Interior of Hagia Sophia interested me because of the attached memories and the attachment of visitors looking on and wondering about the history, people, noises that were present in its original use.

“I chose to immerse and dissolve the piece as a way to illustrate the changing and re-planting of memories. With the sound of original recording being reimagined by being immersed and then dissolved in the Dee Estuary the piece creeks and splutters as the small speaker becomes engulfed with salty water.

“Unfiltered and unedited this original recording re-positions the notion of a sacred memory and remembering past events. Such as with the Interior of the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul the recording offers an alternative use of the echoes that previously existed from this sacred place.”

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Memory version:

Kamen Nedev also recorded something for us from the Firuz Aga Mosque in Istanbul: “This is a call to prayer ‘proper’, recorded on the same date as the previous recording.

“The Firuz Aga Mosque is located in the same area as Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The call attracted me due to its sense of melody and its length (just over nine minutes).”

Philippe Neau reimagined this sounds, simply writing that he wanted “to work with a voice over the sounds and noises. I wanted to play with the opposition of the melody of the voices and noises from the city, the world. I used this recording, and field recordings from my place and I reworked everything with various software.”

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Kostas Loukovikas provided us with this recording from the Church of St. Anthony of Padua in the city, which Paul Verschooten tackled, writing:

“I wanted to keep it short and sweet for this one, and drew inspiration from the album I currently have in production.

“The result is a two minute track with live trip hop drums and a lot of tape trickery, experimental but fun to listen to.”

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Memory version:

Dream sequence backgammon, Turkey

Backgammon_players_Bodrum_Turkey_IMG_1530Bodrum, Turkey, and an Oblique Strategies submission from Robert van Riel, who captured the sounds of a frantic backgammon game taking place. We dealt the cards Question the heroic and Be dirty to Robert, and here’s how he applied them to the sound.

“Interpreting the Oblique Strategy cards I received, I thought that they steered in the same direction, or better, made me steer clear of polishing results too much. I like well produced sounds, even street sounds, very much and I try to achieve a same level of sophistication in my sound edits. But why should I? Why not “Question the heroic” and “Be dirty”?”

“For this challenge, I used a recording of a group of Backgammon players in Bodrum, Turkey (shown in the picture).”
“I was mesmerized by the speed the game was played and the sound of the dice and stones. At that time, the call for prayer sounded, and the players were not even bothered to look up or listen. I can imagine they wouldn’t, the call for prayer sounds five times a day and for them it is not as special as to me. Back home, being unable to separate the sounds of the call for prayer and the dice, I decided to emphasize the two most imported sounds I heard in the recording and use a delay effect and some equalizing. It focusses the attention to these sounds, and pretty much blurs out the rest.”

“”Be dirty” and “Question the heroic” are shown in the lack of separation of sounds and the absence of mastering the result, so the sounds are unfiltered and have some peaks and the high end of the spectrum.”

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Giving the name away – Istanbul reimagined

6Today it’s our turn to highlight Cities and Memory’s own contribution to the Oblique Strategies project. We picked out a lovely field recording by contributor Berrak Nil Boya from her home city of Istanbul, Turkey – the sounds of Caddebostan Beach at 7.00 am in the morning, with waves, birdsong and dogs barking. The Oblique Strategies cards we drew were Give the name away and (Organic) machinery.

Organic machinery was the straightforward one. I layered several instances of the wave sounds and applied some bitcrushing effects to some of the layers, panning them to the extremes of the stereo field to give a light machine-like ‘crunch’ at the edge of the wave sounds.

I then brought in some synth sounds built from the sounds of piece of metal and oil drums to work around the edges of the piece, giving organic machinery a presence throughout, but not so strongly that it overpowers the beauty of the original recording.

For ‘Give the name away’, I decided to recall the noble tradition of the musical cryptogram, in which the notes used in a piece hold some meaning external to the piece itself. I used two different synth lines to spell out the location name as far as I could – since the name contained lots of letters from the beginning of the alphabet, there was rich musicality in its name.

The lead, higher synth spells out C-A-D-D-E-B-ost-A-n (Caddebostan), while the underpinning bass synth answers it with B-E-A-C-h (beach). The two synth lines weave in and out of one another, as the two halves of the location name are allowed to build the melodic base of the whole piece.

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Memory version: