Within the Jordan’s Cultural Mosaic class, we were given the choice to analyze certain artifacts of Jordanian lifestyle which would help us understand more about the social aspect of being Jordanian.
For my analysis of the Sounds of Amman artifact, the chosen approach was to assess it both historically and culturally to find a meaning about why these daily occurrences were so commonplace in the city. To understand these sounds, I would have to learn more about Islamic faith, as well as the expected culture of an almost wholly Muslim society.
The expectations for Muslims in regards to prayer are demanding. As the most important (and easiest) activity, there’s an expectation for prayer happening five times a day, taking place in the early morning (before sunrise), midday, the afternoon, at sunset, and at night. So, at five different intervals during the day, we can expect the recital of the adhan (call to prayer) by the muezzin (the mosque’s hired reciter). I also explained how new audio technologies has allowed for the efficient broadcast of the call to prayer, revolutionizing tradition and using it in a way to reach out to a more modern Muslim society.
What struck me while listening to the track again and again was how the city sounds meshed with the adhan – sounds of traffic, indistinct chatter, and general commotion all blended in and breathed life into Amman. We do not know exactly if there are people who are trying to find their way to a mosque, or if the traffic is a result of drivers trying to get near to a place of worship. From there, I wondered what the sounds of Amman could be like without the adhan’s recital over the loudspeaker – would it be a different Amman without it being a daily presence, or was its significance greatly overstated? These questions were buzzing in my brain the more I listened to the audio.
The sound quality of the audio didn’t strike me as an interesting topic of focus, though I imagine that the recording has a deliberate feel that it’s trying to capture. With the mixture of sounds from citizens and traffic, as well as the adhan’s recital, you can sense that there’s an intent to not have one overpower the other. In my mind, the recording feels like either a sound recording done with a phone, or audio ripped from a video since I could pick up on light wind brushing about. Not much added to the artifact, but it is good to pick apart the audio capture style.
In light of that, I feel that the synthesis of sound is a definition, or at least an audible fragment, of Jordan’s cultural mosaic. Islam is clearly something which is integral, (especially with the daily call to prayer), and that if it wasn’t clearly alluded to in that recording, listeners would probably not understand its major significance to Jordanian society.