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A symphony for San Marco, Venice

20140920_182822A special treat today – this is one of my favourite field recordings from recent months, a real hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-the-neck moment.

In the world-famous, incredibly busy St. Mark’s Square in Venice (Piazza San Marco), the typical sounds of cafe bands, crowds and chatter are interrupted by the thunderous clang of the bells from the Campanile bell tower.

The bells sound extraordinary – resonant, reverb-drenched, the sound bouncing off the buildings on each side of the piazza, it’s a heart-stirring, colossal sound that says so much about the place.

How, then, to approach reimagining it?

I’ve taken the central concepts of the bells ringing and the cavernous reverb as the core – here, organ stabs represent the bells ringing at the beginning and end of the piece, while reverb-drenched guitar plays a melody that represents the overwhelming feeling of the original bell sound.

In the mix, the sound of the original bells and the bustle of the piazza rise and fall in and out of the mix, creating a new dreamlike representation of what it’s like to be in Piazza San Marco in an alternative sound world.

City version:


Memory version: