Sunday, June 29

and now for something completely different.... SOUNDLANDSCAPES!

Soundscapes. Soundwalks. Soundlandscapes. Sound Maps. Call it what you will, I am mildly addicted to them. For me it's the next best thing to actually being there, where ever that may be. I came across Des Coulam's website a few years back and instantly fell in love with the sounds of Paris. I often tune in when I'm blogging. It is peaceful and relaxing and does not make me lose my train of thought. His latest Soundwalk, Quai de Montebello makes me feel like I'm sitting on a bench across from Notre Dame, listening to the bells peal, birds chirping, muscians making music and watching Paris walk by. Below is one of my favorite posts of Des'. It's raining, and as he sits in a Parisian cafe a jazz ensemble sets up across the street. It's magical. Take a listen and see if you don't agree. To hear that wonderful Parisian jazz head to the bottom of the post. ENJOY!

A Soundwalk in the Rue Mouffetard

THE RUE MOUFFETARD is a very old Parisian street, a Roman road leading south to Italy.  In the eighteenth century the area around the rue Mouffetard gained a reputation for violence and in the nineteenth century men from la Mouffe’ were always to be found on the Paris barricades at every opportunity from 1830 through to 1871. Balzac said that, “No neighbourhood of Paris is more horrible and more unknown”.
Times have moved on. Today, the rue Mouffetard is a street lined with shops, cafés, restaurants and a busy market. It’s a popular place and ideal for a soundwalk.

Much has been written about soundwalks and the art of sound walking and I confess that I find most of it impenetrable. It might be simplistic and perhaps unfair to those who toil over such things with such diligence, but I often think that if you have to explain it in great detail, and usually at great length, then you’ve somehow missed the point.
To me, soundwalks are simply about observing through active listening; listening to the sounds around us. Sometimes, the sounds around us are significant enough to define a particular place but more often they are simply the transitory sounds that provide the sound tapestry without which a place loses part of its identity.
I find soundwalks endlessly fascinating. I love the different textures of the sounds – the chatter of people and snatches of overheard conversations, the transitional sounds from outside to inside and from inside to outside, the clatter of teacups in a busy café, the differing sound texture of the traffic and the captivating sound of footsteps over the pavé.
For this soundwalk, I began by sheltering from the rain opposite a Franprix supermarket at the top of rue Mouffetard. The rain passed and I meandered down the hill calling into the bookshop, a café – where a colorful three man jazz ensemble set out to entertain – and another Franprix at the bottom of the hill.

Here is a visual of my walk - don't miss the jazz ensemble!

Sitting in the bistro Le Mouffetard, with a glass of Leffe and a copy of Le MondeI was half  watching the world go by and half reading the news of terror plots from cargo aircraft, when a sound drifted in through an open window.
A three man jazz ensemble had installed themselves across the street and they were just beginning their afternoon’s work. I went to investigate.

Rue Mouffetard never fails to provide something interesting for this chasseur de son to record. This was one of those elusive moments that comes from being in the right place at the right time.

A word about editing:
The sounds reproduced here are an edited version of my soundwalk which took over an hour. There is no processing or layering of the sounds, so the sounds you hear are the sounds exactly as they were recorded save for reducing a long recording down to a more manageable listening experience of some eight minutes and forty-five seconds.

Check out Des Coulam's website Soundlandscapes and his blog - where he has all of his soundwalks inventoried - Soundlandscapes' Blog.

sounds, walking, Paris, Parisian, streets, portraits, travel, France, soundlandscapes


  1. I have never heard of this before but it is amazing! Takes me right back to walking the streets of Paris! Thanks for that.

  2. oh goodness. I think I just found my new addiction! you're right, this is the perfect thing to listen to while blogging!