On aural experiences

Suffice to say, just like everyone, I tend to get sucked into an overthinking spiral over something sometimes with no significance at all e.g. why is Chipotle not pronounced as Aristotle, or compote like Capote, or what’s the political economy of Agrabah etc. And today I was reminded that a lot of times we only assign certain verb, action, or medium (video rather than music) with certain platforms e.g. “I’m spending my time watching Netflix” but not “I’m going to listen to Spotify” for no reasons other than it sounds weird?

Speaking of sounds, I was reminded of a couple of sound-based (not music) projects I encountered over the years. I have taken to listening to this podcast called Ottoman History Podcast, on well, Ottoman history on Spotify (see, we are always super specific when it comes to aural experience!) for no reasons other than I am a curious person and this podcast is brilliantly run and curated too. There’s this episode where they talk about the sounds of Islamic Berlin — where they interviewed a musicologist Peter McMurray who talked about his recent field recordings and ethnographies he conducted among various Turkish communities in Berlin. In the episode they also shared two sound clips on the acoustics of the Turkish communities in Berlin, and we listened as Islam found its place within a European city. I did a little digging and found McMurray’s thesis which spoke of the subject.

There’s also this project, Cities and Memory, a global collaborative sound project where there is a sound map of currently more than 2,000 soinds already featuring two sounds of the very same place: the original field recording of the place, and a reimagined sound that presents the place and time as somewhere else and somewhere new. The project is also available on Spotify, if you want to start listening to it and take part.

During a trip to Bali, I saw a friend of mine pointing his phone towards a religious procession taking place at one of the temples we visited. I thought he was taking a video, but I realised his phone camera wasn’t properly in focus anyway. He then said he had been recording sounds of places he visited during his travels, and shared them on his Soundcloud (although for the life of me I forgot to ask for the link) so not only other people could listen to them, but also once in a while he would listen back to them and be reminded of the places he had visited. Kind of like flipping through a photo album, but for sounds.

I love this whole low maintenance tracking items just for the sake for recording or maintaining them, much like these examples I have talked about before. My own ‘logging things just for the sake of logging them’ has only been my 1-second every day videos, which my own consistency surprised me as I am not the most patient person, and especially since this year I haven’t traveled much. But maybe it’s good just to log them to see how much I have progressed, or not, because “perhaps you’ve had to compromise something good so that you could do something great. [ ] consider thinking of it from a place of celebration. Instead of feeling regret over what you didn’t do, celebrate what you did do.”

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