The paper examines issues emergent from the construction of my work the bird ghost at the zaouia, which transliterates recorded experience and memory of time and place. Islamic ritual and public spaces were recorded, reworked, re-routed and re-sited in a work that references, comments upon and potentially reconfigures the Islamic sonic-social. Tracing my own stance, the paper foregrounds emergent issues in the recording and use of highly culturally freighted sounds. I trace three broad areas: 1. Sonic Orientalism – the use of sound that carries ‘Eastern’ cultural and religious significance in order to signal a certain kind of alterity; 2. The development of a compositional strategy that seeks a middle-path between acousmatic and acoustic-ecological debates; and 3. A cross-cultural comparison between modes of listening. In addition I discuss the contexts of debates on the permissibility of music within Islam, and also world-musics that trade on the romanticised alterity of sonic tourism. I draw parallels between an ‘ethically responsive sensorium’ characteristic of Islamic aural disciplines and the ‘aesthetically attuned sensorium’ engaged by sonic arts. I argue for an approach that is inclusive of the sonic and the full spectrum of vibration through ramified networks of memory and meaning.
Audio excerpts available at: www.sethayyaz.com/sound-works/bird-ghost-at-the-zaouia