The rustling of leaves in a gentle breeze; crickets chirping in far-off fields; cow bells echoing in the distance; birds lightly chirping from tall trees; a calm, unwavering quiet.
The sounds of rural life are often described in such terms. Yet these depictions reveal next to nothing about the people inhabiting those environments and the relationships those individuals have with the sounds surrounding them. If anything, they represent an overly simplistic view of rural life.
Drawing on our background in filmmaking and ethnomusicology, we decided to listen closer, spending a day in Georgia’s eastern villages of Zinobiani and Chantsliqure, interviewing locals and recording sounds.
Located in Kakheti’s Alazani Valley, Zinobiani is Georgia’s only settlement of Udi people, an ethnic group with their own critically endangered language.
A few kilometers to the north, not far from Russia’s Daghestan, Chantlisqure is an ethnic Avar village of several hundred residents.
Our focus on rural soundscapes is meant to reorient understandings of everyday life in the Caucasus, to illustrate how a person’s relationship with sound amplifies identities, religious practices, occupations and makes up an essential part of an individual’s understanding of their surrounding world.
The audio was documented with an H4Npro Zoom recorder. Rather than film the process, a 35mm camera with a fixed lens was used for simple photo illustrations.