In 2014, I spent nine weeks in Belgrade, focusing on the questions, “What does this city sound like? Is it possible to portray it using sounds?”
In numerous excursions to different areas of the city, I collected sounds and noises. In addition, I conducted several interviews about the soundscape of Belgrade with people of different ages and backgrounds. The resulting comprehensive acoustic archive, or memory, became the basis of my compositional approach.
One characteristic of Belgrade is its numerous peripheries: Even within the historic city center, you may quickly and unexpectedly find yourself in fringe areas. The transitions are sudden – when it comes to sounds, you abruptly move from loud and noisy areas into others that are delicate and subtle. Also, I discovered circles in various contexts: in architecture, in ornaments, in traffic regulations; even time seems to be perceived as circular rather than clocked and linear as it is commonly understood in central Europe.
I designed a score by using my city map: The location of my apartment was the center, around which I drew eight concentric circles. During the compositional process, all the recordings from each of these rings were combined into one layer, resulting in eight musical layers.
The piece was then composed with eight channels, for a setting that uses eight speakers. On this CD, you will hear a stereo version of the piece.
Like in an “acoustic blender,” selected field recordings (some raw and some processed) create a sustained moment of density: a musical likeness of Belgrade. While the components of this sound portrait are taken from the acoustic reality of the city, the compositional process transforms them, giving them a new quality. Belgrade’s highly expressive and captivating character was extracted and abstracted through music.
The entire structure is divided into smaller sequences which, however, merge seamlessly.