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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

1SoundFX goes sound recording in Athens, Greece

In films and on TV, we've all seen those nutters who walk around with big headphones and mobile sound recording equipment, recording every sound they come across on their path. Well, I'm not afraid to admit it - I'm one of those guys.

I've been seen on train station platforms in the arctic north of Norway, on a white sandy beach in the Caribbean and, most recently, on the streets of Athens, Greece - even on the hills of the Acropolis itself - and recorded sounds. (The photo on the left shows me, at the Acropolis). And I'm now happy to be able to present all of the resulting sound files to you here at 1SoundFX.com, available for download in glorious High Definition 24-bit WAV audio.

Athens, Greece is a very busy place. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the city is bustling and oozing with heavy traffic, busy streets, noisy mopeds and motorcycles and millions of people. Everywhere. All the time. For someone like me who's from a quiet little seaside town, Athens can be overwhelming, invasive, and very exhausting. My first recording was that of the most heard sound in Athens: City street traffic. Cars, buses, mopeds and motorcycles seem to compete for the loudest noise levels in this city.

Next, I recorded the sound of the central City plaza, called Sintagma Square. It's a quite small square full of people, a 50/50 mix of tourists and locals mixing it up in the cafes, and with traffic on all four sides. From the middle of this square you can hear mostly people chatting, with more distant sounds of buses, cars and motorcycles on the road system surrounding the square. (The photo on the left showing people, cars and taxis on the corner of Sintagma Square).

I also enjoyed bringing my audio recording gear into the city's Flower Park, a little "green lunge" in the heart of Athens where people bring their kids for a day out, or just to take a few minutes break from the stress and bustle of the office or the city. The park is connected by a whole network of little footpaths in a somewhat, quite frankly, confusing web with signs pointing this way and that way. Standing in the park I managed to capture this rather nice sound of the breeze blowing through the leaves of huge trees overhead. A little bit further into the park I came across a very large bird cage, an Aviary. Inside were lots of small birds tweeting away happily. (Photo on the right shows park entrance).

Whilst walking from the hotel toward the Acropolis, my ears caught the familiar sound of lots of noisy kids playing in a back yard. I couldn't see the children because they were separated from the city traffic by a huge wall, but I could hear them just fine. I set up and recorded a few minutes which resulted in this rather nice sound of young children playing in a school back yard.

At the Acropolis I recorded various sounds, but here's a limitation of the media of sound itself - it can't really reveal the historical setting or archeological and historical importance of the Acropolis with its Theater of Herod Attica or its Panthenon. The sounds, when taken out of context, are just sounds of people chatting, and that's the best I can do unless you can imagine yourself at that place while closing your eyes and listening to the sound recordings. (The picture on the left shows the Theater of Herod Attica, at the Acropolis).

Whilst in Athens I wondered the streets for hours and I was lucky enough to come across lots of buskers. Don't know what a busker is? It's one of those guys who will sit in the street with a guitar, or an accordeon, or what ever instrument they play, with their hat on the sidewalk in front of them, in the hope of having some coins donated by people passing by. I came across several of these people and actually became quite good friends with one of them. He was a Bouzouki player, playing traditional Greek folk music on his Bouzouki for the enjoyment of tourists and locals alike. I actually recorded three different songs of his; here they are: Bouzouki music 1 - Bouzouki music 2 - Bouzouki music 3.

On another street in a different district of the city center, I came across another old Greek guy playing the Santoor. (They seem to prefer the term "Santori" locally). I recorded two songs by this guy: Santoor music 1 - Santoor music 2.

I also captured the sounds of a very fast moving little Jazz band. These 4 guys would quite literally play for a few seconds in one spot - maybe for one minute - and then move on to the next spot, a little further down the street. People hardly had time to get their wallets out and donate a few coins, before the band had taken off and were not only to be heard 20 meters down the road. Wow... what a stressful, hurried band! Here they are: Street jazz 1 - Street jazz 2.

A friend of mine gave me a tip about an indoor food market, he said I had to go there and record the crazy sound of people shouting over each other about their meat, fish and vegetable products. And he was right - this place was completely crazy. I mean, I thought Athens in general was a stressful and busy place, but the city itself seemed like an oasis of calm compared to this market place! Here's one sound of people cackling and shouting at the meat market. Here's another dense crowd noise from the food market of Athens. And here's a sound from of the fish market noise, that's just another area of basically the same market hall. While I was there I also shot this little video clip with my cellphone. The video and sound quality isn't good, but it will give you an idea of the "feel" of this place. I got to tell you... I don't envy the guys who work there. After spending about 45 minutes in there for sound recording, I felt completely exhausted, like I needed a stiff drink and somewhere to lie down. But that's Athens for you. :-)

In this blog I haven't talked about all the sounds I recorded on my trip to Athens. There are plenty more. They are in amongst the well over 100,000+ other sound effects that we have available here at 1SoundFX.com. Thanks for reading!

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