This research project centers around the practice of making live field recordings of the Islamic Call to Prayer at mosques around the world. I began this project in 2010, when I moved to the United Arab Emirates for work. I became enamored of the sonic nuance of the Call to Prayer, resonating from mosques on every street corner in the city. I wanted to capture these calls, to understand more about them, and in order to share them with others. This research was a part of my doctoral work, and the ethnographic documentation and findings became one of the case studies featured in my Dissertation. In addition to using field recorders, and photographs as means of documentation, I have also conducted interviews, and am currently writing a book about the process of travelling around the world to record the call to prayer. Gathering these recordings independently is a time consuming and expensive task, which has lead to collaboration with others through crowdsourcing and social media sites. I have used the recordings and photographs gathered during this research to develop two arts projects to date. The first is a soundmap of the call to prayer and the second is called, Sonic Storyboard: The Call to Prayer.
The Soundmap of the Call to Prayer is a website where visitors can navigate through a map of the world to hear the call to prayer from different mosques and see pictures of the mosques. The idea is simple; the map geo-locates these adhans and allows people to listen to a call based on geography, from North Carolina to Istanbul, and Tunis to Singapore, the listener can hear the differences between the adhans.
The Sonic Storyboard is a project developed from recordings of the Islamic call to prayer, also known as the adhan, azhan, or namaaz. I used these field recordings and corresponding photographs to develop an interactive installation where visitors to the gallery would become participants in the ever-changing soundscape of the space, based on their interaction with images of mosques around the room. Using sensors, an Arduino, and a patch I built in Max/MSP, I was able to use the data of the visitors movement to impact the resulting playback of the calls to prayer.
Sonic Explorations of the Call to Prayer.