Conducting a series of soundwalks is a good way to gauge the range and diversity of the different mosques in Urumchi and to discern, en route, the ‘keynotes,’ ‘signals’ and ‘soundmarks’ of the surrounding city. Experimenting with phone-based GPS-systems as a means of tracking and plotting the soundwalks provided both astounding detail as a record of a fieldwork exercise but also highlighted first a curious mis-alignment of satellite data about Urumchi and, second, how battery-hungry this type of software can be!
In the example, red indicates a faster pace, green points to much slower movement. Numbers indicate distance points in kilometres. A series of sonic snapshots from the audio recordings give a flavour of sounds on the streets of Urumchi during the month of Ramadan in 2015.
A street sweeper in the mid-day sun.
Sheep brought into town on the back of a small truck bleat before slaughter for the iftar meal.
A butcher chops up and prepares the now slaughtered mutton.
Hit songs blurting into the street from a record shop.
A clothes shop blasts naghara-sunay (drum and shawm) music to attract customers.
The adhan, as broadcast from the Yanghang mosque.