• Simon

Notes on Nightwalking

Updated: Jun 15, 2019

I recently visited my 92-years old grandmother in Halle, Central Germany. After we had spent the afternoon and evening huddled over old photo albums I needed some fresh air and decided to go on a night walk through Giebichenstein - the old beautiful Northern district of Halle, which had been the occupational and familial centre of my grandparents lives. The district is dominated by the castle Giebichenstein, which developed from an already in the 9th century existing settlement. Large parts of today's district belonged to the former city's bordering cemetery. Remnants of old trees, gardens, decorated manor houses and a certain tranquillity still govern the appearance of Giebichenstein and always manage to tickle my imagination.

The following are some realisations I plotted down when I returned home in the night to the warm lights and my wondering waiting grandmother.


* Night walks are the ultimate soundwalks as the busyness of the bright hours has died down to a minimum (at least in smaller cities) and all your senses sharpen. The darkness suggests an alertness that probably is a remainder from the time when we lived in the wilderness.


* I automatically release my jaw joint when I am listening attentively. I heard some time before that this is a reaction of the body to increase hearing ability by optimising the resonance of the mouth and nasal cavities


* Halle is the German town with the most beautiful and at the same time most dangerous side walks. Especially considering all the elderly living in the city. The roots of the trees in the old avenues claim their rightful place and the ground with the small stones and plates of the pavement swell under the flexed biceps of mother nature.


* I am really fascinated and rejuvenated by listening and every time I am surprised by this realisation. I am rediscovering the pleasure of walking by night and in general letting my intuition guide my decisions in choosing the path. My therapy of forgetting past and future and melting together with the environment, at least for a brief while. There are endless possibilities of route networks. Angle, time of entering, weather and other parameters create new experiences in known surroundings every single time.


* Giebichenstein has intriguing nooks and hidden curious places. Very thought-triggering street names and beautiful graffiti and street art. It’s a place in transition and the tension arising between the sterile new and the forgotten or ignored, but living old buildings, pavements, walls, gardens and fences, draws you in the presence of change and contrast. There are a lot of surprises. Especially of aural kind. The reflections and reverberations of sounds are almost disorienting due to the winding roads, uneven facades and many balconies. There many things you hear that you cannot see, especially in the segmented backyards that one can spy into passing through nimble and narrow galleys with impossibly shifted cobblestones


* I was reminded again by the mind-boggeling sound resemblance of sea waves and tree leaves, especially when the leaves clinging on in winter are very dry. Disrupted by the occasional car noises I found myself wrapped in a Sharawadji-experience, when suddenly soothing sound waves washed around me from the foliage above. A Sharawadji-effect is described by composer Claude Schryer as "a sensation of plenitude sometimes created by the contemplation of a complex soundscape whose beauty is inexplicable."


* I love the architecture of Giebichenstein and the spirit of the place. I am certainly going to spend more time here in the future. In what context I am not sure, it may present itself in good time.