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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.”

City version:

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.”

City version:

Memory version:

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.”

City version:

Memory version: