Vincent Battesti / Mics in the Ears: How to Ask People in Cairo to Talk about their Sound Universes

All documents recorded by Vincent Battesti.

Document 1 : Recorded ambiance in front of the Azbakiyya Park, by al-26 yūlyū, Downtown Cairo, April 14th, 2011 at 3:25 p.m.


Document 2 : Walk between Talaat Harb square and Sherif Basha street, Downtown Cairo, November 4th, 2009, 7:45 p.m.


Document 3 : Same day, about one hour later, walk between al Bibani square and ḥara al-Meɛamār, Darb al-Aḥmar, Old Islamic Cairo, November 4th, 2009, 9:05 p.m.


Document 4 :Roba vekkiyya!” cry of the ragman/junk gatherer in the street, recorded from the 7th floor of a Haussmannian-like building, in a pedestrian area, Downtown Cairo, November 6th, 2009, 8:57 a.m.


Document 5 : In the outstanding traffic ambiance of the Ramsīs square, the cries of the microbus touts can still be heard by the potential fares, in Cairo, November 2nd, 2003, 11:24 p.m.


Document 6 : A street greengrocer’s cry in the residential Doqqi neighborhood, Cairo, December 5th, 2009, 1:21 p.m.

Her cry is very modulated and difficult to perform but highly recognizable by the potential customers.


Document 7 : Street demonstration against an American invasion of Iraq, a few left-wing intellectuals met and enjoyed coming back to the street (unthinkable for a long time), on the sidewalk in front of Sayeda Zeynab mosque, Cairo, February 15th, 2003, 1:21 p.m.


Document 8 : Street demonstration for the January 25 Revolution, and against the military, by protesters of different social classes on Talaat Harb street and Tahrīr square, Downtown, Cairo, October 31st, 2011, 10:38 p.m.


Document 9 : At dusk, birds that populate a huge villa’s garden, in the chic residential part of Mansuriyya, country suburb of Cairo, February 25th, 2007, 7:00 p.m.

No doubt those who can afford to enjoy such a sound ambiance in Cairo are a very happy few (this bourgeois villa belongs to a former minister and businessman).


Document 10 : Same day, two and a half hours later, ambiance in a local café of Suleymān Gawhar (Doqqi), with patrons playing tawla (backgammon) and dominoes, smoking šīša (narghilé), February 25th, 2007, 9:30 p.m.


Document 11 : Saturated sound space in the popular neighborhood of Sayeda Zeynab during her mawlīd, the annual saint’s festival (for a week), Cairo, October 1st, 2002, 11:26 p.m.


Document 12 : Religious sounds (prayer from a small mosque nearby) heard in a composed ambiance with other incidental and accidental sounds during a walk inside an informal overcrowded market in Azbakiyya, Downtown border, Cairo, February 19th, 2007


Document 13 : Religious sounds (Friday’s sermon from the local mosque) heard in a composed ambiance with other incidental and accidental sounds, from an apartment in the neighborhood of Suleymān Gawhar, Doqqi, Cairo, February 16th, 2007


Document 14 : Cries close to screams of young peddlers selling T-shirts at night on Talaat Harb street, Downtown Cairo, April 14th, 2011, 8:20 p.m.

With the revolution, people took up the street again, especially vendors. In strong competition, they cry or scream to draw customers, but nonetheless they sometimes co-operate to create a specific street ambiance.


Document 15 : Saturated sound space during the popular annual saint Festival of Sayeda Zeynab, during the leyla kebīra (the last and greatest night of the mawlīd), Cairo, September 24th, 2003, 0:37 a.m.