© F. J. Burbach

This photo with the test balloon, taken by a friend of mine, was my inspiration for the sound piece “The balloonist in the desert is dreaming”.
When I floated up in the sky in a balloon basket for the first time – over the northern German lowlands, not over a desert – I had an overwhelming sound experience. A free-flying balloon filled with gas doesn’t make any noise. Up in the air it’s quiet, except if there’s a plane nearby. Sometimes the wickerwork of the balloon basket creaks. I had never heard such quiet before. A hundred meters above the ground, two hundred, we rose and rose. Far below on a farm a man, out of sight, called out: “Okay, see you tomorrow.” I could hear his voice clearly. Another invisible person answered: “At eight.” This was followed by a long silence. Then a dog barked. And I could even hear a bicycle bell. These isolated, fleeting everyday sounds appeared so precious to me, way up in the sky, from the balloon perspective.

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Silent sound, 03:48