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Montmartre: Paris is closing

View from Montmartre across Paris.
View from Montmartre across Paris.

Paris, France, and a soundscape based in Montmartre from new contributor Michael Begg. Here, he creates a new soundscape by artfully and subtly constructing it from layers of existing field recordings, as he describes:

“‘Paris Is Closing’ was assembled in the summer of 2014, largely from the immediate vicinity of the apartment I rented with my family for the summer on Rue Joseph de Maistre. I always liked leaning out of the balcony late at night to watch the barkeepers close up shop. It always seemed such a relaxed, satisfied process.

“Couples would walk slowly by, smoking and talking softly. Others would linger in doorways, shutters half closed, and pass a few more moments in idle chat before sealing the doors and drifting home.

“Closing time in Scotland always seems such a graceless, desperate period in comparison.

“So, with my children sleeping in the room behind me I would sit in complete silence and stare at the scenes acted out in the still, hot nights. I thought then as I still think now that I could fall in love with Paris. I even started learning the language, but being almost fifty, progress is slow.

“I made recordings with my Zoom H6, and with a Rode iXY on my phone. I took recordings throughout the duration of the trip. Not just whilst nursing my nightcap on the balcony.

“My kids couldn’t understand how I felt that ink sketches and audio recordings would be better than photographs as a lasting document. I am not sure I’ll ever be able to successfully explain to them why this should be the case.

“The exercise here was to assemble something that was plausible, yet impossible. In so doing, the effect would be, if successful, to trick time, and somehow thicken the sense of presence. This is why there is the unlikely combination of footsteps, street sounds, and metro trains, and why the comparative distances between elements and their proximity to the mic are, at best, questionable.

“It is, to me, unmistakably Paris.”

City version:

Memory version: