Sound is recognized by UNESCO as an intangible heritage and an essential component of the social landscape. As each community has certain landmarks that give it a unique vibe, so each community has a sound imprint, a certain unique sound that make it special. The transmission of sound through sculptures takes place in compliance with the artisan tradition and ancient processing methods, making still alive a type of production that mechanization cannot replace, not being able to enhance the uniqueness of the artefact. In this sense, the protection of these traditions serves to guarantee niches of artisanal production in a context undergoing global transformation.

Viscri fortified church

Sound research

In the two sound sculptures created in collaboration with Saxon artisans and exhibited at the Goethe Institut from 8 to 19 June, loudspeakers were installed to reproduce all the ethnographic material. During our research we carried out interviews with the community and the artisans as well as having recorded the soundscape of some specific places. Subsequently we gave a fluidity to the audio part to allow visitors to the exhibition to live a complete sensory and patrimonial experience.

Audio duration: 49 minutes Recording locations: Saschiz, Viscri, Malancrav, Sighișoara – Transylvania – Romania

Below you can listen to the original audio file played by the two sound sculptures and the playlist


: min. 00:30 – 11:55
ELENA: min. 12:20 – 23:50
RUDI: min. 25:00 – 34:30
ANA: min. 41:30 – 43:40

Dorothea is one of the few remaining Saxons in Saschiz. She told us how the territory and the community have changed and we listened to some tales and dialects in Saxon language

1. Dorothea's day as a child (in Saxon)
2. On migration
3. On traditions
4. Saxon song
5. Saxon dialects

Today in Saschiz we are eighteen Saxons. Most of us left after communism, around 1989-90, little by little almost everyone left, they tried to see first if something would really change, it was terrible.
Everything we experienced in childhood, how we were raised, was no longer there. That’s why I made this museum, looking at my nephew, I would like the past and traditions to remain. We were very orderly and traditional, there was order everywhere and that’s why we survived. A small community in a large space with other ethnic groups with whom we have lived and worked well together. But if we hadn’t been so orderly and tied up and if neighborly relations hadn’t regulated all of life, everything would have been more difficult.

Everyone knew what to do, no one was supposed to come and say what you should do: if someone died, if someone was born, if someone needed to tear down or build a house, everything was regulated. Everyone knew what to do. It was necessary to follow the rules already given by the community, if it had not been done it would have been very serious. And the worst thing could have been to be excluded from the community. But without community you had no chance to survive being a Saxon among Romanians, at first they did not accept you easily, so you had to comply with the rules of the village, the women within this village helped each other, if anyone wanted to make a new roof, all the men in the neighborhood, at six in the morning, showed up at the house of the neighbor in need and helped him, with gratuity they helped him, and this was reciprocated without exception.

Today we are 18; 3 young people, another 3 or 4 my age and the rest are over seventy. Two months ago the oldest Saxon woman in our village Saschiz died, she was 90 years old. So it is difficult to keep traditions, but we continue to preserve those related to the church, many of our traditions revolve around the church, religious holidays such as Easter, the Rusalii. We have a priest who comes twice a month to say Mass in Saxon. It is good for us but it is also a problem, because in this way the other communities are also lost, some even larger than ours, precisely because they do not have this figure of the priest who can unify. As the church keeps these small communities together. Because the people who live in this community still have a common place, a common purpose, where to meet. In our community there were no barons or poor, there was a very democratic democracy.”

(Song in the Saxon language)


Elena is a Romanian artisan who works in Malancrav and we wanted to interview her to understand the importance of traditions and how the Romanian and Saxon communities coexist. She reminded us of how her best friends were Saxons and the many stories of ceremonies and rituals. Her interview and the crafted sounds recorded were reproduced by the two sound sculptures during the exhibition. Elena was one of the artisans who collaborated for the realization of the sound sculptures, creating the fabric for the Triptych sculpture. 

1.On ceremonies and traditions
2.On her craft
3.The machines of Elena
*intermezzo - horse in Viscri.

Why is it important to continue traditions?

“A state without traditions is a nation without an identity. Here in the village all traces of tradition were about to disappear and so I decided to give a boost to some women and teach a group of girls, there were 15 of them, to embroider. We have created a group. They then entrusted us with a class in the Sibiu Folk Art School. We worked with some girls from Malancrav who didn’t even know how to pin and knit a ball. After three years these girls have learned to weave and to make lace, and the shirts of the typical Romanian costume. I taught young girls to sew shirts. I say that we are returning to traditions, but we need someone to give the impetus.

If there are no traditions, we do not have identities, it is good to realize this. We have had some very nice uses and I hope they come back here and among the Saxons as well. Being in a Saxon village I lived among the Saxons and they had very beautiful traditions, and unfortunately since many of them have left, these traditions have been lost. I recently saw that in Germany they have started to recover them.

Some traditions, for example on the Saturday before Palm Sunday, boys up to the age of 14 take branches decorated with colored paper and give them to girls. And in exchange they receive, on Easter day, a basket full of eggs and sweets corresponding to the number of sprigs donated. These are Easter customs. Also on Palm Sunday, girls who went from childhood to adolescence wore traditional costumes and went to mass and received “confirmation” by passing a test, called the youth test, with questions about the Bible asked by the priest. They studied religion one hour a week in church. All the believers waited in front of the portico of the church and people entered in line for two starting from the youngest with the oldest. Same thing happened for women.

The Saxons were double the number of Romanians at the time. In my class there were 15, in the other section there were 33. The Saxons and Romanians were not in class together, there were two separate sections.

Those who did not receive the “confirmation” remained a child. I liked this tradition very much. He had a lot of charm for me. From Easter to the Rusals it was customary for both Romanians and Saxons that boys brought girls a “May tree” (Arminden) which they planted in front of the door singing in a circle. The Saxons for St. Peter and Paul, therefore in the summer, placed a very high pole and above this pole they placed a wooden wheel that was decorated. The men cut down a tree in the forest, removed the bark, cleaned it and raised this pole while the women adorned the wheel. All this happened on Saturday.

In the wheel was placed a bag full of sweets which was the gift received by the boy who managed to climb to the top.

Sunday after mass there was a parade of costumes: they crossed two bridges and arrived at the place where there was the pole to climb. Under this tree was full of people cheering and cheering. The boy who managed to get to the top threw sweets to the children who gathered under the tree and once he got off he had the right to dance with all the women who were under it and at that point he was declared Mayor of the young and coordinated all community activities throughout the year, up to St. Peter and Paul the following year.

We Romanians also participated in this Saxon tradition. We were very close to each other. We didn’t need to make the difference between us and them: for example, all my friends were Saxons. After Sunday lunch, we would go out the door and there were many groups and we would cook popcorn, as they are called today. A big fire was lit and the corn kernels were put in a pan. And they came out like a kind of little flowers. We had big baskets around which we gathered. They were natural and they were very good. We were all around this fire, talking, telling stories. It was really nice.

Here there was a tradition, that of making the trousseau. In other words, everything a woman needed in the house after getting married: carpets, tablecloths, napkins, towels, tea towels, nothing synthetic could be bought, as you buy now. All these things were done by mothers and so it was for me too. Since it was war time and my mother worked for both me and my brothers, I started helping her too and I learned slowly too.”

( the sound of tradition: the weaving machine)


Rudi is an excellent guide within the Saxon community, he is 33 years old, of Saxon origins and one day he decided to return to his native village, Saschiz. Determined to revive the community, he tells us about his projects and his future.

1.On the Saxon dialects
2.On local architecture
3.Ringing the bells before the religious service
4.On Saxon agriculture
*intermezzo - birds singing in Viscri
5.On community

“Saxon is an oral language. It appears to be a dialect and differs from area to area. If you went to the market, you could tell by how they spoke from which side some Saxons were coming from. Like any oral language, if you reduce the number of people to talk to, it gradually fades away too. Our official language, even in church, is German.

Today it is easier to speak in German than in Saxon, this language slowly begins to die out. People who are fluent in Saxon are fewer and fewer. There is also the problem of buildings and architecture which should be a heritage to be preserved, being one of a kind. If we do not realize this value, then it will be difficult to convince others to preserve the local architecture.

Saschiz was surrounded by orchards and hops and was one of the most rural towns in the area until the industrialization policy of Communism. Numerous factories have been built around here. After 1990 these factories were abandoned. Now you can find much higher quality hops than elsewhere. I hope that in the future there will be breweries and that there will be various assortments of hops again. Behind each house there were also hop dryers, which were dried and then exported to the Austro-Hungarian Empire on trains. People planted hops in their gardens and this also allowed them to have a considerable income, corresponding to an annual pension.

With communism, all horticultural agriculture and small production were swallowed up by the large distribution of factories. We really lacked the sense of community of the past and so I decided to get involved in the church as a volunteer to recover some traditions, the ones I think are most interesting. Once when we got married, for three days the whole community was used for the preparation of the wedding, today all this cannot be done. But we do other kinds of things: we take care of animals and we involve young people so that they can maintain this community spirit. An important role is played by the church which is not simply the mass or liturgy but a place where the community gathers. For example, some festivals are organized in front of the church porch and we try to build this sense of community again.

There is no longer that separation between Saxons and Romanians that was evident until 1990. There is no ethnic or religious difference and even people who live out of the ordinary are welcome and invited to participate in the life of the community. We need to modernize and look forward rather than backward. We cannot redo the past and we need to think about the future.

(musical interlude) (Saschiz organ) (Saxon language ceremony) (soundscapes) (harp) (animals) (drop)


Ana is a skilled artisan who works in Sighișoara, a 12th century city of Saxon origins, with Ana we talked about an old profession such as working leather and how it was the material that sought it, we also recorded some sounds coming from her instruments.

“Since I was a child I have helped my father to prepare the goods for the fairs. The first time I made a whip. I did it and undone it until I intertwined it in four. Work chose me. It’s a life style. Working and growing, this has become my way of life. It came by itself. I have never questioned whether I like it or not, it belongs to me. My father never told me: you have to do this job, you have to learn this you have to learn this other. He let me discover for myself what I liked when I helped him. Helping him I learned the trade. The first few times it seemed very difficult, especially to cut straight. Now it comes natural to weave, to weave. Everything that seemed difficult to me before looking at my father now no longer seems so difficult. I like to create new models and express my points of view in what I do. He always comes to mind while working. How he worked, what he taught me. Many times he would tell me what to do. I did it in my style. But the result was as he told me.”

(sound of the leather goods machine)

the two sound sculptures that reproduce the playlist

Prelude for Organ