How does sound affect our memories and experiences? This is a question answered by many special places on the earth.
In today’s first EWC Saturdays Around the World article, we take you to the first of many sound rich places: the Sea Organ of Zadar Croatia.
These EWC journeys on Saturdays will be something you can count on for a while, reminding us that sounds can transport us, opening doors to other places and times.
Do you have a vivid memory that comes to mind when you hear a song from your teens? How about the “iconic” noises of a big city, a brook in a favorite patch of woods from your childhood, or the sound of the school cafeteria?
Here’s a better question: is sound a form of time-travel, already hardwired in our brains?
Let’s see this in action with our first sound rich stop on a planet-wide journey: Zadar, Croatia. We’re going to go deeper into this later in the article, but first a taste of this bit of wonder:
“Spring 2005 saw Zadar gain something absolutely unique: the worlds first pipe organ thats played by the sea. Its an art installation designed to let people enjoy the point where urban space meets the sea on Zadars new pier for cruisers on the end of the Old Town peninsula. Simple, elegant stone steps have been built on the quayside, perfect for sitting on. Underneath, 35 pipes end in whistles with openings on the quayside above. The movement of the sea pushes air through, and depending on the size and velocity of the wave chords are played.
As you sit and listen to the ever-changing sounds created by the seas energy, you can bask in the sun, enjoy one of Zadars famous sunsets or enjoy the balmy night air. This is proving to be an extremely popular spot for culture and leisure, bringing new life to a new part of the city. The projects architect was Nikola Bašić, and a team of experts from Zagreb and the island of Murter engineered the organ itself.” 2
Sounds intriguing, like so many places on the planet, and the amazing thing is that it’s so accessible here on the web. But I’m not sure many of us are using the web to “travel” a bit. It’s easy to spiral into our email, Facebook, Buzzfeed niches and rarely use the wonder of the web to truly expand ourselves.
That said, we will begin taking you on small journeys from the comfort of your home now, with our EWC, Saturdays Around the World articles. As you may know, our motto on this website is to prove that this is still an amazing world, despite what the negative 24-hour news cycle tells us. We think travel may be one of our most primal instincts, connecting us to our uniquely human sense of wonder.
We all know sound plays a major part in how we remember and react to spaces and places. Sound will be a big part of our Saturdays Around the World journeys.
Now let’s take a better look at what it would feel and sound like to stroll around, on a lovely Saturday, on the Zadar waterfront. Relax through this, don’t rush, and imagine you, yourself, are walking until evening there. Oh… and if you stay with it, you’ll find a surprise comes to life at night on the waterfront!
This sea organ has transformed the interaction of sea, city, and community in a beautiful way. So, settle in, expand to full screen, put on your comfy travel clothes, and let’s head to Zadar:
I find this video truly incredible. So often we create public spaces with the best of intentions that never fully become a part of the cultural fabric of the city. The sea organ is a marvel of the power of creative intervention.
Designed by architect Nikola Basic in 2005, this masterpiece of acoustics and architecture is a inspirational example of what happens when we put care and intention into our public spaces.
While we need not put a massive organ powered by the ocean at the center of every city, perhaps by introducing an element of wonder into our public spaces we can better allow for those spaces to foster a sense of community.
Particularly today, we so frequently walk around with our headphones jammed in our ears, completely oblivious to the sounds around us, we often miss out on collective auditory experiences. What would our spaces of community look like if we unplugged to hear the sound of a park fountain, and in doing so overheard an uplifting conversation, or started up one of our own?
So, perhaps next time you want to listen to your favorite song for the 500th time while walking through the park, you might just try listening to the world that is actually around you. Sometimes, just listening to our surroundings can be a journey in and of itself.
A few extra links for you:
If you are curious about the science of how this sea organ works, click here to read a darn good paper written about it, by a Dartmouth College student. And Thank you to Kelly C. for sending the Sea Organ our way! If you stumble across anything incredible on the internet, let us know through our submit page!
Stay open, curious, and hopeful!
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Or just scroll down to the bottom of this page where you’ll find a few more incredible articles like this one!
- “Zadar In Your Pocket – The Sea Organ (Morske Orgulje).” In Your Pocket City Guides. YouTube, 27 Aug. 2009. Web. 14 Nov. 2015.<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJWldNdG4Lo>. ↩
- “Sea Organ.” East Centric Arch. Architext, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2015. <http://www.east-centricarch.eu/projects/sea-organ.html>. ↩
- “Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun in Zadar, Croatia.” YouTube. Like Zadar, 29 Dec. 2014. Web. 12 Nov. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtDYTeB5J-8>. ↩