On a recent trip to Belgium, we stopped off for an overnight stay in Brussels before heading back home to Paris. It was my first time in the capital of the European Union and whilst it was a much more modernised city than Bruges (where I had previously been visiting), it has still kept much of it’s historic charm.
Amongst the sites I visited was the Cathedral of Saints Michael and Gudula, a catholic church which hosts ceremonies of national interest, such as royal marriages and state funerals. As I entered the cathedral I had my recorder armed and ready in case any interesting soundscapes could be found inside. As I approached one of the chapels off to the side, a small group who had been silently praying began to sing.
They were perfectly in harmony and used the reverberation of the church’s acoustics brilliantly – singing softly and letting the room’s acoustics do the work. It was fascinating to sit and listen to the very low level voices multiply in strength, to fill all the space and reach right up to the high ceilings above. As they sung, they remained still and after each song, they would continue sitting in silent prayer, before beginning a new song.
A beautiful experience that made the visit of the already stunning cathedral all the more worthwhile.