By Tess Knighton
The other day I went to the opening of the exhibition ‘Voices of the Mediterranean’ at the Auditori, organized by the Museo de la Música directed by Jaume Ayats, who gave a brief introduction and then guided the fairly large group attending around some of the exhibits. The exhibition is a celebration of the voice, its extraordinary capacity for creating sounds and its equally extraordinary power of communication; it is definitely worth a visit. Two aspects struck me above all: first, the siting of the exhibition in the open space among the concrete pillars outside the concert halls; and second, the significance of placing the exhibition’s content in a Mediterranean context. As for many people, Fernand Braudel’s classic study of Mediterranean history made a huge impact on me: I think he would have liked this exhibition. The many excellent videos and recordings are drawn from all areas of the Mediterranean from Slovenia to Sicily and from Turkey to Tunisia. One of the installations – these are mounted in attractively lighted ‘pods’ of a decent size capable of holding several people at once – entitled ‘Languages and Shores’, presents a map of the Mediterranean, and its many languages, and a song to attach to each region at the touch of the screen. You can quickly créate a sound map and the relationship between language, region and music is deftly illustrated. Another offers a video of markets of various kinds in the different regions and their soundscapes and the communicative power of the voice, never more persuasive or colourful than when trying to sell wares of whatever kind. Another presents a highly specialized microphone (courtesy of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra) linked to a screen enabling visualization of different vocal pitches, timbres and degrees of vocal intensity – quite fascinating. You can also record your own voice, from which a vocal montage will emerge by the end of the exhibition, in the manner, as the caption says, of adding ‘a drop of water to form part of a Mediterranean sea of sound’. Another pod, entitled ‘Temples, teatres, àgores i tavernes’ explores voices that seduce, form part of and identify a community and fill social spaces. The placing of this exhibition in this central, open space – itself transformed into a kind of marketplace or agora of the sounds produced by the human voice – is revolutionary in its concept of moving outside the museum and inviting and, yes, seducing concert-goers and others – perhaps even the local skate-boarders – to explore the cultural phenomenon of Mediterranean voices.
TK 31 January 2015