Istanbul Soundscape,


I explored the margins of the Spice Market in Istanbul, Turkey. I tunneled through the trinket shops and tourist fray and emerged on the far side, where I found another scene: vendors selling garden and pet supplies with bins of dried dog and cat food, leashes, potted palms, rose bushes, bags of fertilizer and three large glass jars of leeches, swimming. The New Mosque, with its two  minarets and cascading domes built in 1660's, looms over this tented section. Turning the corner, a tented store-front lined with bird cages, barrels of cuttle fish and birdseed housed shrieking tropical birds: At that very moment, the adhan- Islamic call to prayer- sang out.

I first heard adhan in 2006, during a stint in Bangladesh, and it captivated me. Upon my return to the U.S., I earnestly tried to convey its power and beauty, yet, I have found that words flail. Only by listening can you feel the emotional surge, be transported and transformed.    

Production note:  Upon recording this, I was thrilled and the internal debate began about how to "use" it. After a month of stewing, I finally listened to it and realized that I didn't want to alter it. Some sounds are already full; they tell poignant stories and do not need enhancement. Thus, this is a raw recording (from my iphone) and provides another turning point in my self-education into sound art: the world is filled with compelling sounds, layers of tracks, and  rhythm. Put your ear up to the world, listen to it, and use what is already available. Even so, we can still be agents mixing tracks by moving around,leaning our microphone closer to different sound sources.

Image: A silhouette of a canary in a cage. This darling bird, like the call to prayer, greeted me every morning and evening. She looks out the window to views of the Blue Mosque. 

Access note:  As this is a soundscape, a transcript is not available. However, here is a description of the layers of sound:  Begins with the call to prayer warbling, background noise: birds squeaking, some men speaking Turkish.  The adhan slips into silence.  Men talking.  Starts again with the adhan and a close-up of man talking. The third round of prayers; the birds dominate the microphone and the call to prayer fades into the background as frenzied bird noises dominate until the call to prayer returns to the foreground and the birds recede and disappear. Another call begins uninterrupted, then a metal hammering, and water flowing in background increases in volume. The adhan is finished, and the water is the only sound and fades to the end of the recording.