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Cultural Center in Togo

My project for constructing a community cultural center at my site in northern Togo is now on the Peace Corps website. Read a brief description of the project and make your tax-deductible contribution here.
local kids in dance class at temporary arts center

Carla Seidl at Book Revue Sept. 9th

Carla will be doing a book and CD signing at Book Revue in early September, playing songs from her debut album and reading from her anthropological memoir, The Sophisticated Savage.

Details: Wednesday, September 9th at 7pm at Book Revue, 313 New York Avenue, Huntington, NY.

Audio Postcard from Azerbaijan

In this unnarrated sound collage, Seidl creates an aural painting of life in her village using recordings of sounds she often heard in her daily life there. She interweaves sounds of chores, animals, music, nature, and talking in the Azerbaijani language to give us a sense of a very rich and very other place.

For the first year of my Peace Corps service, I lived in a small village in the north of Azerbaijan, a country that lies between Iran, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and the Caspian Sea.  There, the rhythm of life was different, the food was different, the language was different, nearly everything was different from anything I’d known before. When I closed my eyes and focused on my ears, I heard lots of sounds repeating themselves over and over again: sounds of animals, of chores being done, intermixed with more modern sounds of Turkish pop music from the satellite television.  In the following sound collage, I tried to give a feeling for my village life using sounds I recorded in Azerbaijan in 2006 and 2007.

This audio postcard from Azerbaijan was recently featured as part of WNPR’s first “Radio Adventure Theater.” Thanks to Where We Live Senior Producer Catie Talarski!

Guitar Making: The Human Element

A new audio documentary about luthier Scott MacDonald of Huntington, NY.

Internationally renowned guitar builder (luthier) Scott MacDonald of Huntington, New York says that his work is essentially a human art. Scott is different from most guitar makers in that he doesn’t produce models, doesn’t believe in reproducing the same instrument. Instead, he builds custom instruments, uniquely designed to fit the needs of each person – physically, musically, and personality-wise.

Scott is skilled at picking up cues about people. In fact, sometimes he can tell what a person he’s just met does just by the sound of their voice or their posture. And when he creates a guitar for someone, he is guided by feeling and impression more than the specifics of his craft. Listen to him share his philosophy on guitar making and hear his people skills at work in this non-narrated documentary including wood, workshop, and musical sounds from his finished and unfinished guitars.

“Cannibal Theme Park” on WILL-AM

The radio documentary “Cannibal Theme Park,” related to Carla’s Ecuador experiences compiled in The Sophisticated Savage, was featured this week on Sidetrack with Jason Croft on Illinois Public Media’s WILL-AM. To listen, click here; the piece starts about 27 minutes into the broadcast.