Friday, December 16, 2011

Sounds Overheard: Incantations Of Tibeten Nuns

Buddhist nuns wear elaborate head dresses while chanting last October in Lhasa, Tibet.

While visiting the Anezamkang nunnery in Lhasa I was reminded of the nugget of video production wisdom that goes "seventy five percent of what you see is what you hear".
Do you "see" more when you play 1' 15" natural sound recording of nuns chanting?

I must admit I was in a heck of an visually exotic spot, inside a tiny Tibetan Buddhist temple draped ceiling to floor with colorful banners, filled with three dozen nuns wearing elaborately embroidered robes and hammered silver-paneled hats topped with tall turbans. The nunnery was hidden down a tiny stone alley in Lhasa's ancient Tibetan quarter, out of sight of the Chinese army troops patroling with automatic weapons a few blocks away. I was gasping in the thin air at 12, 000 feet, and contentedly digesting a meal of yak noodle soup.

But listen to the above field-recording audio file of the nuns singing and chanting, ringing brass bells and swinging small paddle drums, and tell me how exotic the scene feels to you now ... seventy five percent better? I would say the experience is immeasurably more intense and real.

During my assignments and travels I've been recording the sounds I overhear, and many don't have supporting photographs or stories. This occasional series will be my excuse to share my audio orphans, these Sounds Overheard.  

More stories from Tibet are elsewhere on this blog, and more examples of field-recorded natural sound are at my Miami multimedia production portfolio site.