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May 23, 2010

Binaural Recording in Monmartre

by soundlandscapes

I spent all yesterday afternoon in Montmartre recording the local sound colour. The trudge up the hill from the metro Anvers was a drag but the binaural sound haul at the top was well worth the effort.

Montmartre and art are inseperable. By the end of the 19th century the area was a mecca for artists, writers, poets and their disciples, who gathered to sample the bordellos, cabarets, revues and other exotica which made Montmartre’s reputation as a place of depravity in the eyes of the city’s more sober upstanding citizens. Many of the artists and writers have long since left the area and the lively night life no longer has the same charm.

But the hill of Montmartre ( the Butte) still has it’s physical charms and the village atmosphere remains remarkably intact. Mobs of eager tourists ascend the hill, most of them gathering in the most spacious parts, particularly where quick portrait artists and souvenir sellers thrive, as in the old village square, the Place du Tertre. Tertre means hillock in French. Elsewhere there are tiny, exquisite squares, winding streets, small terraces, long stairways, plus the Butte’s most famous vineyard where the few grapes are harvested in an atmosphere of revelry in early autumn. And there are spectacular views of the city from various points, especially from the monumental Sacré-Couer. The Butte has long been a place to have fun and this tradition continues with latter-day Edith Piafs singing in the restauraunts.

The Butte is absolute heaven for street sound recordists, with the chatter in the Pace du Tertre, the street musicians including the Edith Piaf look-alikes, the key-ring maker who has been plying his trade there for years and one of the very few  places in Paris where it is possible to record traffic-free birdsong.

Yesterday I recorded them all. I will add samples in due course.

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