What does a vast desert sounds like? There are 3-4 famous recordings from sound libraries that have been widely used in films and documentaries around the world. The same tracks are commonly used not only to represent the sounds of desert but of deserted places as well. But is it the same?
The visual aspect of a desert pre-disposes a viewer about what it should sound like. And of course before you use a magnifier or a pair of binoculars, you can hear a cobra’s hiss, just behind you. No, I was joking. Of course a desert is not a deserted place and no desert is the same. There are plenty of reasons not to hear just the wind. But sometimes you can hear just the wind. And somehow then the desert becomes deserted.
The desert is changing as you record every moment of the day. I managed to record a night sand storm, away from any vegetation that could make the characteristic whistle that we are so much used to hearing in extremely windy scenes. This was the only stereo recording that we did where there is no presence of any living creature, not even crickets, nor any of the numerous sparrows, nor the morning cuckoo that woke us up one dawn.
The desert is the perfect place for a sound recordist to be happy. The complete absence of engines and mechanical noises makes it an ideal place to record the birds, the wind but also even single human voices or noises, or even mechanical sounds. An isolated truck engine crosses the soundscape which is painted with pale colours of birds, fat brushes of flying, short lines of grass moving and insects, a long line of a fly and a soft pale sky of wind. This was a morning recording, standing by myself, in the desolated ruins of Gonur Tepe and the heavy old Russian army green truck impersonated a mythological bronze age monster that would have frightened the ancient inhabitants of this metropolis. But even that noisy 20th century mechanical roar was completely essential and minimal in it’s presence, necessary to paint a soundscape where the existence of it’s ancient inhabitants is so evident and geometric to your eyes.
LISTEN TO SAMPLES: