Soundscapes: As we traverse the landscape the sounds that we hear create a living audio landscape that stirs emotions, seeps into one’s heart, into every cell of one’s body, fills one with joy, and can be released in some unexpected future time making us fall in love all over again with that moment. Sounds that make us fall in love with the present, with life and evoke memories that help us re-live past experiences.
Walking The Landscape
Sounds can have an incredibly powerful effect on our emotions. As we approached the end of our twenty seven kilometre walk today from Garlasco to Pavia in Italy I felt its power.
We had started our walking at 6am. It was before sunrise. The air was chilly. We walked along fields and irrigation channels watching a glorious sunrise of yellow, orange and red hues paint the sky.
Lulled By Music
After a few hours, with sore feet and feeling tired from the sun that was high in the sky we reached the outskirts of Pavio following the Tico River. As we trudged along a narrow track lined with blackberries and foilage dried brown by the summer’s heat we began to hear waves of music.
At first I thought I was hearing things. The music floated on the gentle breeze drawing me closer. At first it came in subtle waves like wafts of fragrant honeysuckle on a spring evening. I looked around for the source of the music but couldn’t locate it. I didn’t know which direction it was coming from. It seemed to echo like a sweet lullaby through the surrounding landscape, drawing me in.
In a few seconds we reached an open field of dried grass and at the far end was a gleaming car with all doors open and the beautiful abundant music flowed out of the vehicle filling the surrounding field.
Walking through the heat listening to the music felt surreal and yet created moments that I will never forget. It transformed the fatigue into something beautiful. Instead of feeling tired and uncomfortable the music didn’t remove them but imbued my fatigue with a sense of fullness, deliciousness.
Falling In Love With Moments
Listening to the music envelope me I fell deeply in love with the moment. I didn’t want this moment to end. It is strange talking about falling in love with a moment yet it felt so beautifully fulfillingly sweet that I Wanted to last forever.
The melodic Spanish music was so unexpected here in Italy. It created moments that lifted my spirits, lightened weary feet and centred me in the present rather than transporting me to another world. In that moment I fell in love with the present. I will long remember this moment for the way it made me feel so deeply.
Here is a snippet of this lulling music as we walked towards it:
I am reminded of the Sirens in Greek mythology and of Odysseus who was curious to see what they would sing to him. He had all his sailors plug their ears with beeswax and tied him to the mast.
The Sirens were dangerous creatures who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of an island. 
Upon hearing their beautiful song he ordered his sailors to untie him but they bound him tighter. This is the power and allure that sound can have on us.
Music can evoke deep emotions. Sound can imprint in our brains so that years later simply hearing a song can bring back memories.
I don’t know what it was about today but I felt particularly attuned to soundscapes that I walked through.
Earlier on in the morning we passed through the village of Gropello Cairoli. As we neared the village church pealing bells filled the air. We have heard church bells ringing quite often on our pilgrimage as we happen to walk into a village upon the hour feeling like the bells are ringing to greet us pilgrims.
Below is a sound recording of church bells ringing in the village of Ropollo that we passed a few days ago:
Pavia-ing the Way
Entering the town of Pavia crossing the Tico River over its magnificent ancient covered bridge with flagstone road and timber and tiled roof we stopped for a refreshing sweet treat of gelato up the cobbled main street through the town.
As we continued weaving ourselves up the street lined with two story buildings we passed a musician on his accordian.
It echoed through the street, lulling me into a deep sense of joy. I said to myself, ‘wow, I’m really in Italy!’.
It brought back the beauty and charm that I felt watching Under The Tuscan Sun.  I could never get sick of watching this film.
Below is a sound recording of the accordian player echoing through the streets of Pavia:
Throughout the world daily we are losing something very precious to a fast changing world. The sounds that surround us are constantly changing, dying out, becoming extinct, evolving, being replaced by others.
Around forty six percent of living languages are in danger of extinction as the last speakers of these languages die or the younger generations are swept up in the globalisation reducing language diversity and creating monoculture.
There are sounds no doubt when you were young that may no longer be around such as the milk man coming in the early morning to deliver bottles of milk. Sounds can evoke memories of our childhood and days gone by.
In Australia I enjoy listening to and recording the sounds of the forest. It is my way to remember the biodiversity as I fear that human activity and climate change may make these forests silent some day.
One of my favourite films of all time is Il Postino, or ‘The Postman’ (not the Kevin Costner film, but the 1994 Italian film). It is one of those films that when watched on a quiete undistracted evening makes me ‘fall in love with the moment’ all over again.
I won’t spoil the film except that it is beautifully moving. Below is a scene from the film as Mario Ruopollo, a simple uneducated islander befriends a famous Chilean poet exiled to a tiny Italian island. During his exile on the island, Neruda the Chilean poet receives news that there no longer is a warrant for his arrest and he returns to Chile.
In the meantime, Mario comes across an old phonograph and hears the music that he heard when he first met Neruda. Moved, he makes recordings of all the beautiful sounds on the island onto a cassette including the heartbeat of his soon-to-be-born child.  Here is a snippet from the film below:
Life can become much more sensual and enriching when we engage all our senses fully.
Become present to the sounds that fill your day in this moment. Take a deep breath and take them in.
In Australia waking up early in the morning I am blessed to be greeted by the calls of many birds from galahs, corollas, kookaburras, butcher birds, magpies, cockatoos, to name a few. I never tire of their beautiful sounds and feel grateful to be able to hear them daily.
Falling In Love
Sometimes, we can fall in love with the moment simply by being fully engaged with our senses in it.
There is so much pleasure, richnes and joy in life simply through allowing ourselves to fall in love with surround sound, the sounds that surround us…constantly.
Lull For Life
Imagine living a life where sounds can set you off in ecstasy?
Imagine a life where music can bring back lived moments?
Sounds romantic, maybe fantasy?
Why can’t life be lived as one big lulling love affair?
2. Under The Tuscan Sun film, 2003
Anne PascallAugust 13, 2017 at 2:57 pm
Thank you David for the audio and visual additions……it helped me get an extra glimpse of where you are. Here in Chennai there is never silence, day or night, but somehow those sounds, which have become so familiar, become reassuring, almost comforting – at at times overwhelming! Many years ago I lived in this part of the world for two years, ………memories have been resurrected……sounds, sights, smells and tastes bring back aspects of my life all those years ago and fill me with a sense of excitement as I realise how much they have shaped my life , and this trip will continue to shape my life…….sights I’m seeing, smells, sounds, food I’m eating and, almost more importantly, people I’m meeting. How blessed I feel today…..Sunday, a “quiet” day. Blessings to you.
David CuschieriAugust 14, 2017 at 2:03 am
Thank you for your message.
Glad you are making the most of your trip to India – I remember the incredible sensual experience that India can be and yes the sounds, it puts a new meaning to ‘surround sound’! Calling it noises takes away from the experience because as you said all the incessant sounds day and night become strangely familiar and comforting.
Wishing you a tranquil rest day.
Blessings to you too.