“THE BOOK OF SOUNDS”. The name draw my attention and I clicked to investigate it more. I found Daniel Goldaracena’s 18-year old on-going project, which started during a field trip to Cuba in 1998.
My curiosity piqued as I interacted with the images and sounds captured by Daniel. The charming voice of a Vietnamese kid singing a love song in her dying language… followed by political chantings in current Mexico. Then, a traditional tune inside a mosque in Bam (Iran). This last one left me speechless when I read how 80% of Bam’s buildings were destroyed by an earthquake a year after the recording was done.
Daniel is a Mexican sound artist and audio engineer living in Belgium. He slow travels around the world -mostly to remote areas on a low budget- recording how places and people really sound like. He has been self-financing his project so far, originally inspired by the record label “Ocora”, part of Radio France specialized in field recordings of world music.
He does have a (complicated) method for getting his recordings with high fidelity, but not for choosing the “soundscapes” he captures. Daniel confesses by email that he follows his instinct as a route map. He chooses to represent a time and a place with soundscapes, and some of those soundscapes are never to be heard again (even if we do fly ourselves to those destinations).
As I promised in the title, you can now take a stunning audio/visual tour with a click. Make sure you are wearing your nicest pair of headphones, and hit play. You’ll find more in the Book of Sounds’ website or Daniel’s Instagram account.
Love Song in dying language Táy Sa Pa (Sa Pa, Láo Cai, North of Vietnam, 2002)
The girl singing is one of the last 300 remanent speakers of the language.
Bam’s Mosque (Iran, 2002), which disappeared in 2003’s earthquake.
Daniel posted a fragment of this audio in his Instagram, together with a moving quote:
Of all the travellers on this endless road,
not one returns to tell us where it leads.
There’s little in this world but greed and need.
Leave nothing here, for you will not return
Omar Khayyam, Bam, Iran, Persia 2002.
The 2003 Bam Earthquake killed over 26,000 people and injured an additional 30,000, heavily damaging or destroying over 90% of the buildings and infrastructure.
Bolivian charango maestro, Mr Ernesto Cavour (La Paz, Bolivia, 2004)
Daniel travels with Shoeps microphones and cassettes. He is interested in getting a stereo sound from all music, old and new.
Vãn Miėu, The Temple of Literature (Hanoi, northern Vietnam, 2000)
One of Daniel’s challenges is to avoid altering soundscapes just by being there. He spends a long time among locals so they get used to his presence. Then comes the recording settings… sometimes he has to find roof from where to capture a city, or in this case, The Temple of Literature.
Mursi Children singing and playing (Southern Ethiopia, 2014)
Daniel shared sounds from Ethiopia with this quote from J.W Goethe: “There are only two lasting bequest we can hope to give our children. One is roots, the other, wings”. Follow this link to be transported to Shoa Gate, Harar Jugol (Ethiopia 2014).
“Celebración de Pueblo” (Yohualichán, Puebla, México, 2012), a place where over 60 indigenous languages coexist.
Now, contrast the aforementioned Puebla sounds with this political chantings (Mexico DF, Mexico, 2012)
The recording captures a gathering of the social movement “Yo soy 132” (also called “The Mexican Spring”), mostly lead by university students nation-wide. The chantings criticize former candidate and now current president of Mexico, Mr. Enrique Peña Nieto.
Chatting and laughing in a train from Punjab to Pakistan (2002)
Featured image: audio-technica.
NOTE: All pictures and audio material are property of Daniel Goldaracena, and are used here with his permission.