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The voice of the world – a journey in field recording

Cities and Memory visited the Dar A Ouvir festival in Coimbra, Portugal this month, with a live performance and artist talk – and also a sound installation that runs through until September. For those who obviously can’t visit Coimbra, we’re sharing our brand new installation for you to listen to here:

The voice of the world – as heard by Cities and Memory

Whether we’re protesting or worshipping, joyful or angry, sound is at the very core of human existence – we can hear before we’re born, and sound is perhaps the closest and most evocative sense we have.

Field recording captures the voice of the world in all of its glorious forms, and in this collection we listen to a series of recordings captured by Cities and Memory founder Stuart Fowkes in various countries around the world, and placed in dialogue with one another.

Recordings complement and oppose one another as we are transported from place to place. An anti-terrorism protest in Germany is transformed into a crowd celebrating wildly at a football match. A pagan ritual in a field in England bleeds into a Muslim call to prayer in Saudi Arabia. A pro-Ukraine, anti-war demonstration sits in opposition to a plaintive song by a Russian folk singer. We hear traditional music from performing street troupes, klezmer bands, flamenco dancers and beatboxers, expressing community, hope and sadness in unique and profound ways.

This truly is the voice of the world.

List of sounds:

1. Pagan ritual at the sacred Rollright Stones, England
2. Maghreb call to prayer in Deera Square, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
3. Traditional performing street drum troupe, Santiago, Chile
4. Michael Jackson beatboxer, Piccadilly Circus, London, England
5. Festival show introduction, Oxfordshire, England
6. Anti-ISIS protest on the Reeperbahn, Hamburg, Germany
7. Amongst the ultras at a football match, Venezia vs. Cittadella, Italy
8. Pro-EU demonstration 2017, The Mall, London, England
9. Jewish band plays Shalom Aleijim in a metro station, Paris, France
10. Flamenco performance at La Carboneria, Seville, Spain
11. Hare Krishna procession, Cardiff, Wales
12. Ukraine anti-war protest 2022, Oxford, England
13. Traditional Russian folk singer in Red Square, Moscow, Russia
14. Evening vespers prayers sung by monks, Abbazia di Praglia, Italy
15. Mass bells on Christmas Eve, Venice, Italy

This brief video clip captures the moment in which an anti-ISIS protest blends into the celebration and joy of a football crowd: