The night before I flew to Chile, I had some friends over for a Chinese hot pot, a delicious send off prepared and organized by my loving Malika. We ate until none of us could anymore, then Malika and I cleared the table for a game of Halli Galli, which we’re told means “fun” or “party”, in German. Halli Galli indeed.
I lost quickly in the first round, but took the opportunity to try out my new portable audio recorder. I had made what I like to call, “an investment”, and bought a relatively high-quality recorder to take with me to Chile, mainly to document the conversations with my grandparents. I recorded the rest of the round as the others played — it’s interesting how quickly a microphone disappears and people feel at ease, faster than with a camera, I think. The game went on, shrieks and giggles, pounding on the table (it’s part of the game) and cheers.
Then I found my headphones and plugged them into the recorder. What came out was warm, full, crisp and as the recently retired host of CBC Toronto’s morning show has put it, “intimate”. I was amazed and I instantly sought to share the feeling, passing the headphones to my filmmaker and writer friend Barnett to take the first listen, then on to the others. The feeling was there, on their faces: surprise and wonder at the richness and perhaps the sudden upwelling of emotion I had also felt at the sound’s touch.
Maybe he was right, that host of Toronto’s morning show. The image, the camera, whether still or in motion, seem to carry with them that distance which seems inherent in the act of looking. But sound enters us, becomes part of us, and involves us in it; the intimacy is real. I felt it in the moment the sounds of Halli Galli bounced upon my ear drums, but of course, I’d felt it before.
Malika says I’ve found my love in radio. And she may be right. She’s got a unique perspective on it all, of course. She’s been there throughout my trials and errors getting my feet wet in the waves of CKUT, one of Montreal’s community radio stations. And the feeling has kept me coming back; back to the portable recorders, the volunteer room, the production studio, and onto the air.
The feeling of hearing a good sound, of producing a piece you are excited about is something akin to the feverish bliss of having words flow from your pen in a flurry of language you had not anticipated when you flipped open your notebook. The glide of the well-inked pen along the paper, the texture of the writer’s canvas itself, even that familiar scent of “blue” that you recognize as you raise the pages to your nose. Halli Galli and intimacy, all in one.
Take a listen to what we heard that night, here.