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The Sounds of Travel : Sounds of Travel on Tape Bring Back Memories

October 19, 1986|ALICE T. POWELL | Powell is a Borrego Springs free-lance writer.

They are not mentioned on your itinerary. There are no extra charges for them, yet sounds can be a part of your most memorable travel experiences. Recalling sounds can bring back vivid pictures, often of scenes your camera could not capture.

Think of the rhythmic clop-clop of the royal horses' hoofs on London pavements and you see again the state coach and the waving Queen of England. Imagine the cries and songs of gondoliers as you glide once more through the canals of Venice.

Better yet, take along a small tape-recorder and plenty of blank cassettes when you travel and memorable sounds and sights can be yours to relive over and over again. You never know when or where you will encounter them so carry your recorder at the ready as you do your camera, and remember, you do not need to have light to make a tape.

The first time I traveled with a tape-recorder I had taken it to use with cassettes of foreign language lessons. Soon frustrated by my lack of progress in Serbo-Croatian, I began recording other sounds and discovered the excitement of making my own travel tapes. The pleasure they give long after a trip is ended is a true travel bonus.

One tape takes me back to a memorable evening in the town of Bled, high in Yugoslavia's Julian Alps. On an after-dinner stroll I had come upon a group of men idly chatting in front of a cafe. As I listen to my tape I see again the men move to form a circle across the sidewalk, then burst into song, their voices rich and true, their folk songs flowing from one to another without a break.

Recurring Sounds

Though a crowd soon gathered no hat was passed. I shall not forget those men singing for the pure joy of it, the beauty of their music and the shimmering lake waters reflecting the lights of the town and the medieval castle high on the cliffs above.

Sounds may be taped at random or a whole tape may be made on a theme. In Switzerland I found the recurring sounds of bells and singing permeating a trip. In the ancient town of Einsiedeln I awoke each morning to the musical tinkle of cowbells worn by hundreds of brown cows grazing on the nearby hillsides.

At times the tinkling would be drowned out by the tones of the great bronze bells in the Benedictine Abbey's tower. Their longest peals rang for the daily 4 o'clock Mass and I soon answered their call, eager to hear the monks' choir known worldwide for their singing of pure Gregorian chant. It is also at that Mass that the monks sing their praise to the abbey's Madonna, known over the centuries for her miraculous cures.

Thanks to my tape I am back in the abbey and follow again the recessional of the monks after the Mass down the nave to the small baroque chapel near the entrance. High above her altar stands the sweet-faced Black Madonna, her tiny figure elegantly gowned in silks stiffened with precious jewels. Kneeling at her feet are the black-robed monks singing their devotions, "Salvae, Salvae Regina."

Another section of my Swiss tapes was provided by Urnasch, in Appenzell canton, famous for its folk celebrations, including fall's processions of the cows returning from the mountains or from the cow auctions.

Exuberant Yodeling

My cassettes take me back to the main street, every house with flower-bedecked balconies, men, women and children eagerly awaiting the processions of the cows. I hear the singing and exuberant yodeling of young bachelors dressed in traditional costumes of flower-banded black hats, red vests, yellow knee britches and a single earring shaped like a cream scoop dangling from the right ear.

Then they appear. A small girl and boy in native costume herd along five or fix bleating white goats. Next I hear the mellow resonance of the enormous bells worn by the three lead cows. The local people say that those cows, the prize milkers, are proud to lead their procession and to wear the garlands of flowers between their horns and the wide embroidered bands that hold their huge bells.

Swinging their heads so the bells ring vigorously and urged on by three yellow-trousered bachelors, the leaders head down the street followed by the rest of that farmer's cattle. Time after time the pattern is repeated and the deep-toned ringing of a new set of lead cows again comes abreast of where I stand.

Whatever sounds you may record--the raucous cries of peacocks in the garden of a Portuguese parador , the wail of a bagpipe at Jasper in the Canadian Rockies, the shrill calls of vendors in a market or bazaar, eerie night sounds in an Asian jungle, or the majestic music of the great organ in Notre Dame--they will be your sounds, your travel bonus. So take your tape-recorder and when you get home invite your friends to "Come over and hear my trip."

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