cd; special paper sleeve; 2007
1 天安门广场升旗 (2:31)
2 北京卖报小贩 (1:33)
3 电信大楼的时钟(1:42) – 录音：颜峻
4 景山公园的老歌 (3:28)
5 中文割字机器 (1:46)
6 天空中鸽子发出的哨声 (4:42)
7 呼叫鸽子 (1:34)
8 大枣掉落碗里(1:55) – 录音：北京中央音乐学院学生
9 磨刀的人(2:47) – 录音：高磊与董轩成
10 胡同里的寂静 (1:17)
11 北京风里的笼中鸟 (2:54)
12 街头叫卖1 (0:27)
13 街头叫卖2 (0:34)
14 大楼夜间施工 (3:16)
15 交通噪音 (1:53)
16 北京出租车计价表 (0:40)
17 后海之夜 (1:49) – 录音： 中央音乐学院学生
18 说英文的出租车计价表 (0:35) –录音：高磊与董轩成
19 幼儿园里的小孩 (1:54) – 录音：颜峻
20 小学生在课堂上的朗读 (2:32)
21 中学女学生 (1:50) – 录音：高磊与董轩成
22 漫步银杏叶上 (1:23) – 录音：高磊与董轩成
24 “吃了吗？” (0:46) –录音：颜峻
25 数钞票 (1:18) – 录音：高磊与董轩成
26 胡同里的餐厅 (2:19) – 录音：高磊与董轩成
27 北京地铁街头艺人 (2:04)
28 北京地铁广播 (3:54)
29 前门的钥匙 (0:31) – 录音：高磊与董轩成
this is favorite sounds choosen by Beijinger. from “have you eaten?” to bell of telegraph center. from character engraving machine to pigeon whistles…
in 2005, British Council curated Sound And The City project in China. UK artist and musician Peter Cusack holded this Favorite Beijing Sound as a part. also as a continuation after his Favorite Sound London, Chicago and Prague.
supported by British Council
1 Raising the Flag in Tiananmen Square (2:31)
Everyday at sunrise crowds of people watch as the Chinese flag is raised high on the flagpole in Tiananmen Square, while the national anthem plays through loudspeakers.
“I was only 8 years old, when I watched the national flag-raising ceremony for the first time. The sound of the firm steps of those soldiers has been engraved in my mind. Even now I find it sacred. As a native Beijing citizen, I feel happy that I could watch at Tian’anmen Square.”
2 Beijing Newspaper Seller (1:33)
Sampling loudhailers can be heard everywhere in Beijing, used by even the smallest stallholder for loudly advertising their wares. One of most ubiquitous is for the evening newspapers, “Evening Paper, Beijing Evening News, Evening Paper, Mirror”.
3 Telegraph Building Clock (1:42) – recording: Yan Jun
Several people mentioned this clock chime as a sound they found particularly symbolic of Beijing.
4 Old Songs in Jingshan Park (3:28)
Particularly at weekends thousands of older people gather in parks to play music, practice tai chi, ballroom dance or sing old revolutionary songs in choirs hundreds strong. This is many people’s favourite sound of Beijing.
“I love this kind of reminiscence, making me feel warm. And I love the feelings like going around and cleaning the old photos.”
5 Character Engraving Machine (1:46)
Art design shops usually have machines for cutting Chinese characters into paper or card. The machine’s sound and rhythm changes according to the character’s size and shape.
6 Pigeon Whistles in the Sky (4:42)
Small bamboo whistles fitted to pigeons’ tails create magical chords in the sky when they fly. It is a unique tradition, sadly in decline. This recording was made in Dahzalan, a famous hutong of numerous small shops, full of life and sonic details. The area is likely to disappear as part of Beijing’s massive re-development.
7 Calling the Pigeons (1:34)
Beijing’s pigeons are not wild but are kept in lofts, often situated on house roofs. Here, amongst the very human sounds of a narrow hutting street, the owner of the pigeons heard in the previous track calls down his flock.
8 Chinese Dates Falling into Bowls (1:55) – recording: students from the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing.
In autumn people in Beijing courtyards would pick dates by placing bowls under the trees and shaking the branches with bamboo poles. Today it is a rare sound. In this recording the students have re-created the scene by dropping dates from high up a tree.
9 Knife Sharpener Man (2:47) – recording: Gao Lei & Dong Xuancheng
Another disappearing Beijing sound. The ‘knife sharpener man’ attracts customers by scrapping a ridged metal plate hanging round his chest and by his cry, “Sharpen scissors! Sharpen knife!”
10 Hutong Quiet (1:17)
Amongst Beijing’s chaos it is still possible to find places of the utmost quiet. Here the still of a hutong street is broken by a father and son and a passing bicycle.
11 Beijing Wind with Caged Songbirds (2:54)
For some the sound of Beijing wind is very special, although they say its character is being changed by the ever increasing number of high-rise buildings.
“In Beijing, the place that I find most beautiful is where there’s wind. Because there is wind there”
12 Street Cry1 (0:27)
Men with bicycle carts crying “Rubbish recycling! Empty bottle recycling!” is a particularly Beijing sound.
13 Street Cry2 (0:34)
14 Building Site at Night (3:16)
At the time of recording (2005) Beijing is undergoing a fundamental transformation. Building sites that work through the night under floodlights are everywhere. About this sound the proposer says, “I know that at this time, there are two cities actually. One is the birth of bustle and another is the dying out of silence. The sound seems to be the crying of newborn baby, and also like the moans of one who is dying. I know that the sound will stop one day. And if that moment comes, I wonder if I would feel at ease or feel lost.”
15 Traffic Hoots (1:53)
“Everyday I meet traffic in the rush hour, hear that the noises from hooting are noisier than those of voices from people, conveying the anxiety magnifying by multiple times. So I must force myself to like this “popular music”, otherwise I will become frantic.”
16 Beijing Taxi Meter (0:40)
“The voice of meter on the new taxi produced in 2005, such as Beijing Xiandai, is my favourite sound of Beijing. What give me an especially deep impression is a traditional mandarin female voice when I get out.”
17 Hohei Evening (1:49) – recording: students from the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing.
Hohei is one of Beijing’s most popular nightspots.“Walking around Houhai, I heard the music from the bars. Although I have never been to those bars, the music and sounds make me feel I am back in Beijing. Walking along the street, I felt quite relaxed.”
18 Taxi Meter Speaks English (0:35) – recording: Gao Lei & Dong Xuancheng
19 Children in the Kindergarten (1:54) – recording: Yan Jun
“Every day I pass the kindergarden near my home. There are sounds of patting balls, running footsteps, children singing with the teacher playing the piano and so on. Beijing is still a child, it needs to grow up healthily, happily and to thrive it needs our care and protection particularly. I think this is the place where my favourite Beijing sound is found. These sounds help me feel and experience every day it grows. It is happy, healthy…”
20 School Kids Reading in Class (2:32)
A class of about 40 six year old children read the story, ‘Colour of Spring Rain’ in disciplined unison.
21 Middle-school Girl Students (1:50) – recording: Gao Lei & Dong Xuancheng
“The sound I like best is made by female middle school students when they are talking or joking with each other on buses or subways around five or six o’clock in the evening.”
Here the talk is of exams, where they eat lunch, SMS texting each other and the cost of snacks.
22 Walking on Ginkgo Leaves (1:23) – recording: Gao Lei & Dong Xuancheng
Every autumn leaves from the Beijing’s many ginkgo trees fall thick and yellow.
23 Magpie’s Chatter (1:18)
Azure –winged magpies, one of Beijing’s commonest birds, chatter in tall trees above a small unofficial graveyard on the city’s edge.
24 “Have You Eaten” (0:46) – recording: Yan Jun
A Beijingers’ greeting.
25 Counting Bank Notes (1:18) – recording: Gao Lei & Dong Xuancheng
“In my opinion, the most fair-sounding places in Beijing are the banks, in with the sound of numbering the bank notes, entering the password and sending the lists.”
26 Small Lane Restaurant (2:19) – recording: Gao Lei & Dong Xuancheng
“Everyday, there are many people drinking in the small restaurant near my home and there’s a hubbub of voices there. Actually, the living standard of real native Beijing citizens is not high. And this is the colourful nightlife for them.”
27 Beijing Subway Busker (2:04)
A singer from one of China’s southern provinces busks on the train, the reverb turned full up on his portable amplifier. His partner collects the money; passengers seem reasonably generous.
28 Beijing Subway Announcements (3:54)
The sound of Beijing’s subway. “For your convenience, here is the first and last train time of Line One. first from Si Hui: 4:57; Si Hui Dong: 5:06; last train: 23:15; first from Gu Cheng Lu: 4:58; first train from Ping Guo Yuan: 5:10; last train: 22:55”
29 Key in Front Door (0:31) – recording: Gao Lei & Dong Xuancheng
30 Temple of Heaven Park soundwalk (9:52)
An edited recording of one of Beijing’s most spectacular sonic experiences. Performers gather so close together in the Temple of Heaven Park that the whole range of musical styles, traditions and competences on offer is mixed according to your chosen route. Karaoke is very popular, but tuning traditional instruments to the CD backing can be a problem. The track ends with a charming ‘harmonica band’; the instrumentalists wear tiny amplifiers that squeal on their belts and the dancer, dressed in red, moves gracefully in a circle of onlookers.
All recordings Peter Cusack except where noted
translated from English into Chinese by Frankie Su