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February 25, 2015

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The Parisian Chinese New Year 2015

by soundlandscapes

JUST ONE WEEK on from this year’s Carnaval de Paris the streets of Paris resounded to the sights and sounds of the celebrations for the Chinese New Year.

Chinese New Year 2015

There are three main celebrations in Paris for the Chinese New Year, one around the Marais, another in Belleville and, the largest of the three, in Chinatown in the 13th arrondissement, the one I attended.

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In the Chinese calendar this year is the year of the goat, which is associated with the virtues of kindness, warmth, and artistic sensitivity.

Chinese New Year 2015

Each year the centrepiece of the Chinese New Year celebrations in the 13th arrondissement is the colourful and sound-rich procession that begins in Avenue d’Ivry and then winds through Avenue de Choisy, Place d’Italie, Avenue d’Italie, Rue de Tolbiac, Boulevard Massena, finally arriving back at Avenue d’Ivry some three hours later.

Sounds of the Parisian Chinese New Year 2015:

Chinese New Year 2015

As usual, I arrived early and like some of those preparing to take part in the procession I had time to grab a quick bite to eat. For some it was a sandwich …

Chinese New Year 2015

… but for me it was a take-away to eat on the hoof served by two charming young ladies.

Chinese New Year 2015

Before the parade set off I came upon this man manhandling a rather unruly horse …

Chinese New Year 2015

… and a couple of stray lions.

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Paris has a large and thriving Chinese community and for the Chinese New Year celebrations they, and many other Parisians, either take part in the procession or take to the streets to watch it with crowds standing ten deep in some places along the route.

In crowds like this recording the sounds and taking photographs at the same time is always a challenge. The best place to record the best sounds is seldom the best place to capture the best pictures but with good planning, a journalistic instinct for being in the right place at the right time, and judicious use of one’s elbows it’s usually possible manage to do both. I believe it’s called ‘multi-tasking’.

If it comes to a choice though, I always put capturing the sounds ahead of capturing the pictures because why wouldn’t you want those fabulous Chinese rhythms and sonic textures, not to mention the chorus of Chinese firecrackers, to take centre stage!

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

Chinese New Year 2015

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. hmunro
    Feb 25 2015

    “Bienvenue à Shanghai,” indeed! I’m so glad you were able to “multitask” with your sharp elbows to capture these delicious sounds and these wonderful images — they really are the next-best thing to actually being there, I think. All of the sounds were marvelous, but I think my personal favorites came at the very beginning, in the form of fireworks. (What would Chinese New Year be without setting off fireworks in the middle of a large crowd? Grin.) Simply wonderful, Des.

    Reply
    • Feb 26 2015

      Thank you, Heather.

      Yes, any nod towards health & safety regulations is blown away on the wind when Chinese firecrackers are involved. They’re not for the fainthearted although the dancing lions seem quite unperturbed by them.

      Chinese firecrackers are actually more difficult to record than colourful fireworks. The short, sharp and very loud explosive bursts play havoc with a sound recorder so it’s important to get in just the right position to capture the full dynamic range of sounds – not easy in a big crowd. Thankfully, I’ve had plenty of practice!

      Reply

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