International Federation of Soundhunters
Fédération Internationale des Chasseurs de Sons
Internationale Tonjäger Föderation

Dr Jan Mees

Memories of 60 years of CIMES

by Jan Mees, Netherlands

I and my soundhunter friends Guy Tavernier and Pierre Christian had that honour to be joint winners of the first international CIMES 1952 in Lausanne. And that was the first fulfilling of my dream.

How did I come to it? I must go pretty back in my memories. My dream started when I was fourteen years old. I got a number of gramophone records with classical music and my favourite Mozart “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”; there were only a few minutes on one record in that time, but I started to dream about making my own recordings, to create my own studio. In the same time we moved from Denmark to France, the Second World War was to begin, it was not a good time for my dream. But I was lucky. I see it still in front of me: the shop with the name “Carobronze” full of the recorders for cutting the “Disques souples”- black records, my dream began to live again, I just needed to wait a little longer, to learn a new language, making new friends.

On my eighteenth birthday I got my first own recorder. My very good friend Guy Tavernier had also one, another friend Claude Cronier enjoyed us with his ideas and we were ready for new activity. Fortunately I could turn a few rooms of my parents house on Avenue Foch in Paris to my first studio. So our work started. We have been recording sketches, small music, preparing theatre pieces, doing interviews. Many friends have come to see us, read for us and act for us. It was a great pleasure to work with them.

During my living in Paris we have been cooperating also with the French Radio. Jean Thévenot had in that time a regular program for soundhunters called “Au quatre vents”. We have often been guests of his broadcasting and making a lot of recordings for him. That is how we have found out that France and Switzerland started cooperating and preparing together the contest. In the year 1952 Jean Thévenot and René Monnat organized the first CIMES. Of course we have given our recordings to the contest and our sketch “A la poursuite de M. Sprunk” got the Grand Prix. What can you wish more as a young soundhunter?

My dream started to work and I must say it continued to work for many coming years. I got a lot of soundhunter friends in Europe, may be also because of my personal life. I have been born as a Dutchman in Denmark, living many years in France, working in Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, England and many other places. All that allowed me to meet a lot of people and encourage them for our soundhunters work, helping them to create a national clubs in different countries. I was happy that the CIMES growed quickly. In 2 years time Belgian soundhunters became active, in 5 years time, we have had participants from Holland, Denmark, Spain and also Austria. Our movement got a new dimension after the year 1956, when on the 21st October the FICS was established in the restaurant of the Eiffel tower. I have had that honour to be there, to live that moment of the birth of our organization.

My dream moved further. I realized that making the recordings will stay my hobby, that good sound will be my friend forever. I made a life friendship with CIMES and FICS with soundhunters and later also with those representing moving or static pictures. I have seen the development of our contests, how it has increased up from mono competition to stereo one, from simple recordings cut on black records to the high digital technique of today. After several years I was not a regular CIMES competitor more. As a general secretary of the FICS I have taken part practically on all competitions, helping organizing many of them, spending many hours in the juries in different places. One can not mention all of them. But many have been memorable. For instance Amsterdam 1960, the first CIMES organized by Dutch soundhunters, where we prepared a little joke.

Every city has a special sound. I wanted to present that of Amsterdam to everybody and it was very easy: just open the window and listen to the barrel organs which we have of course carefully placed under the window of Krasnopolsky hotel in Amsterdam. It was tricky and successful, as well as the competition. You may ask what continuation can have my dream.

I continue to build my own studio. The old black records “Disque souples” have retired long time ago, my audio recorders, which I still use daily got accompany of video recorders. Of course, everything goes digitally. The satellite technique gives me the connection with the word, also with my soundhunters friends and their recordings — audio or video, which are from time to time presented by different radio and television stations.

Sometimes I am giving me a question, what has been the most interesting for me: the sound, moving picture or the technical development. Probably all of them, they have learned me to look on the world differently and gave me friends for the life. I would like that everybody has that luck as I to find such an interesting hobby, as a regular competitor or a man behind. And because I want to continue my dream I have establish “Dr .Jan Mees Prix” for regular competitor of CIMES.

Good luck CIMES!

Jan Mees (1924-2021), honorary member, was from 1959-1990 vice president, general secretary and treasurer of the FICS: He lived in Wassenaar/NL

From “60 Years of IARC” (2011).

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Last updated 13th May, 2021