Matthew Sansom - Sacralizing Space: location recordings from the Blue Mosque
The first recording was made at dawn outside Istanbul’s Blue Mosque using a Sony MZ-R90 MD and OKM II binaural microphones. The second is of the dawn prayer itself from inside the mosque, this time using a Sony ECM 909A microphone. The recordings were made on October 7, 2005, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
For sometime I have been documenting through audio recording the sounds and spaces of a number of places in the Islamic world. My European ears have become fascinated with what they have been hearing. On one level this is certainly to do with the luxurious spatial physicality of the sounds as they resonate within and across the particular architectural forms and cityscapes of these locations. On another level there is the symbolism and meaning that can be understood from the spiritual tradition that these soundscapes exist within.
As the steadily multiplying call-to-prayer is transmitted through the air from different points within the city, the cosmological significance of this declarative drama gradually unfurls. Reflecting against the surfaces and shapes of the city’s buildings the call’s permeating presence sacralizes the air and habitat of those being invited to remember their God. Similarly, inside the microcosm of the mosque its acoustic design enables air and surface to move the Divine Word across space and time. The gently decaying reverberation of the mosque traces a continual return to the silence and absence that frames the prayer and defines its rhythm. This sonic negation reflects and amplifies the significance of the void at the heart of Islamic spirituality - that ‘there is no god, but God’: a quality shared by the use of negative space in the decorative arabesque, calligraphy, and geometric patterns that adorn mosques throughout the world.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islamic Art & Spirituality (Golgonooza Press, 1987)
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Track 01 - Blue Mosque Azhan (26.1MB)
Track 02 - Blue Mosque Fajr (26.1MB)
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