Call For Sounds!
Are you part of a religious or spiritual community that has changed its practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic? Are you now participating in worship services online, meeting in small groups, or observing alone at home? What does your religious or spiritual practice sound like during this difficult time? The American Religious Sounds Project wants to hear from you!
Instructors and Students: We also invite you to research how communities are transforming their practices and contribute recordings of what you find.
To contribute, use a recording device (laptop, phone, digital recorder, etc. - whatever is available to you) to record your current worship or spiritual practices. Audio files are preferred, but we will also accept video files. If possible, also take a few photographs (or screenshots!). Complete a separate submission for each audio/video recording you want to share with us and attach the associated file(s). Note that the form asks questions about recording location, time, content, and permissions, so be sure to keep track of this information.
Suggestions for recording:
- Webcasts, live-streamed services, etc. from your religious community, including on social media
- Religious or spiritual practices in the home, by oneself or with family/small groups
- New silences inside/outside your usual space of worship (if accessible and safe to visit)
- Conversations with members of your community (can be via Zoom/Skype) who have also been affected
- Reflections aloud on how your religious or spiritual practices have been impacted or changed by the pandemic
- Ambient sounds from your new space of worship
- For further inspiration, you might check out this recent article from the Washington Post on “The new sound of worship services”
Examples of recordings
Here are clips of some recordings we have received, to give you an idea of some possibilities:
- Simmy Cohen reads the book Goodnight Moon as if he is leyning, using the intonation of chanting used to ritually read from the Torah.
- A Maundy Thursday blessing of the hands [instead of the feet] for hospital staff.
- At 7pm each night, the Brooklyn Zen sangha chant the "Refuges Chant in Pali" together. The chant coincides with the city wide "clap of appreciation" for medical first responders.
General recording guidelines:
- If recording a service that is live-streamed, consider using a screen-recording app on your phone or computer. Several options are listed and reviewed here: https://www.techradar.com/news/the-best-free-screen-recorder
- If recording in a private space, ask permission to record from others present and notify them about how the recording will potentially be used - in an online archive, in digital exhibits, and for other public educational purposes.
- When recording, point your microphone toward the primary source of sound you seek to record.
- If recording outdoors, watch out for wind noise. If it is windy, try to position your body between the wind and the recording device to reduce the amount of wind recorded.
- If available and appropriate, consider using headphones while you record. These will enable you to notice any interfering noises and position your microphone in the most useful manner.
After an initial review, we plan to edit submitted recordings for quality and add them to the ARSP’s digital archive, which contains recordings of religious practices and events from across the United States. Select recordings will also be incorporated into a curated digital exhibit about the sounds of religion during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Any questions? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.