Skip links

Sounds from Sarajevo

It’s time to explore the stunning city of Sarajevo in sound – you can already read our Sarajevo city guide by Rafael Diogo, but as an extra treat today we have two brilliant compositions built from the sounds of the city. First of all, let’s remind ourselves of Rafael’s recording from a traditional Bosnian cafe:

“Bosnians are friendly people. Bosnians generally have a pretty relaxed sense of time and that’s why they easily start conversations in cafes offering their help to confused travellers.

“Popular places to meet among locals are “kafanas” (traditional cafes) and “kafiches” (modern café-bars) According to them, coffee is poured three times, and each serving even has its name: “Welcome coffee”, “Talk coffee”, and the third portion, “Farewell coffee”, politely signalling that it’s time to say goodbye.

“This soundscape was recorded while having a cafe in one this “kafiches” (modern café-bars), capturing the essence of the city among the music of a street artist playing the santur.”

City version:

This field recording was reimagined by Andy Billington, who writes of his composition:

“The original field recording of a string instrument being played in the city of Ferhadija is beautiful, uplifting and haunting, filled with drones and complex melody lines. You get a sense of the town, people and architecture with the natural reverb.

“I wanted to try and capture these architectural parts and capture a sensation you were (like in the film Enter The Void by Gasper Noi) floating around the city.

“I layered the sounds, resampling them many times onto tape cutting and repeating the exercise and changing the pitch. Finally, a sort of sonic framework emerged and was anchored by soft synths.

“I then re-added the original field recording, cutting out phrases of melody, adding echo and positioning until happy with the track. Ferhadija Summer was completed.”

Memory version:

Our second sound by Rafael Diogo is from the Gazi Husrev-beg mosque, about which he writes:

“Sarajevo is sometimes affectionately called ‘Little Jerusalem’ or the ‘European Jerusalem’. Here you will find mosques, Serbian Orthodox churches, Roman Catholic churches and synagogues all nestled within close proximity to one another demonstrating the myriad of different faiths and beliefs that exist in this special city.

“Gazi Husrev-beg Mosque is located in the Baščaršija neighbourhood and has the locals say it become an imperial place in the renewal of the Islamic faith after years of Communist rule during which religion did not play a prominent role in the daily lives of Bosnians.

“As more mosques and other Islamic structures are built-in Bosnia, it will remain critical that Bosnia, and Bosnians, retain and build their own “Islamic identity” through these endeavours.”

City version:

This haunting mosque recording was reimagined by Artur Kinal (Synthotherapy), who told us:

“The sound sample was processed with AE Modular synthesizer. All other sounds come from the same synthesizer as well.

“The recent history of the region (Sarajevo, Bosnia) isn’t a peaceful one so I’ve tried to reflect it in the somewhat disturbing mood of the piece and war-like drumming.

“The original sample evoked some Muslimgauze associations so I’ve sculptured modular drums as a tribute to his hand drumming style.”

Memory version: